Child poverty is rising sharply in Texas. But while Texas kids go hungry, Gov. Rick Perry is living a lavish lifestyle on the taxpayers' dime.
Since 2000 (the year Perry became governor) the number of Texas children living in poverty has climbed 17 percent, even as the state has gutted spending on programs for kids. Currently, an astonishing 1 in 4 Texas children lives in poverty. The infant mortality rate is also up 10 percent since 2000.
Like George W. Bush before him, Perry demands steep sacrifices from ordinary working people---while living a luxurious taxpayer-funded lifestyle.
Take Perry's mansion, for example. While Texas is facing an eye-popping $27 billion deficit, Perry is spending $9,000 per month in taxpayer's money to live in one of Austin's most upscale estates.
When the Texas governor's mansion was damaged in a 2008 fire, Perry looked around for another place to live. With the state in financial meltdown, one might think Perry would have shown a little restraint in picking his new digs.
But no such luck. In fact, as of May 2010, Perry, according to AP, had already spent nearly $600,000 in tax dollars living in a lavish 5-bedroom, 7-bathroom sprawling rental mansion the previous two years.
As AP noted, Perry's mansion is 6,386 square feet and sits on more than three acres in the hills overlooking the Texas capitol.
Here's what Perry has been spending with our tax dollars:
- A 6,386-square-foot rental property that sits on more than three acres and was advertised in 2007 for sale at $1.85 million.
- $18,000 for household supplies and cleaning products.
- $1,001 in window coverings from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus.
- $1,000 for "emergency repair" of the governor's filtered ice machine
- A $700 clothes rack.
- A $56,000 stipend for food and beverages.
- Maintenance on the heated pool has cost taxpayers at least $8,400.
- The tab for grounds and lawn maintenance has topped $44,000.
Of course, none of this comes out of Perry's own taxpayer-funded salary, which is $150,000 per year.
While Perry spends our tax dollars generously on himself, the state of Texas is sinking into an ocean of red ink. The state's deficit is one of the largest of any state and puts it in the same league as California and other states facing fiscal meltdowns.
Even though Perry is living like a king, he still demands extreme sacrifice and fiscal restraint from the rest of us. And, of course, poor people rank at the top of Perry's list among those who should "sacrifice."
For example, despite rising child poverty, Texas ranks dead last among the 50 states in its extremely miserly and Scrooge-like food stamp program.
As the Houston Chronicle noted:
Texas does not have enough workers to process food stamp applications and is one of only three states that fingerprints applicants for food assistance. The state also imposes a time-consuming and complicated assets test that impedes the effort to help desperate and hungry people, Concannon said.
As Democratic state Senator Eliot Shapleigh noted in his "Texas on the Brink" report, it's a wonder that Texas has a budget deficit at all, considering how meager the state's programs are. Texas has abysmal rankings on just about every quality of life issue that exists for working people.
Here's how Texas ranks, in comparison with the other 49 states:
- Progressivity of Tax Revenues: 44th.
- Average Teacher Salary As A Percentage of Average Annual Pay: 49th.
- State Aid Per Pupil in Average Daily Attendance: 47th.
- Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores: 46th.
- Percent of Population 25 and Older with a High School Diploma: 50th
- Percent of the Population Without Health Insurance: 1st.
- Percent of the Population with Employer Based Health Insurance: 46th.
- Percent of Uninsured Children: 1st.
- Air Pollution Emissions: 1st.
- Rate of Incarceration: 2nd.
If Perry is elected president in 2012, we can expect a big, hefty dose of his "screw the working class" policies to be implemented at a national level. Perry is nothing less than Bush on steroids. If you think America is increasingly Third World-like now, you ain't seen nothing yet.