Monday, 19 December 2011

Rick Perry Double Dips While Calling for Washington to Scale Back

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On Thursday, December 15, Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry released information that he is simultaneously collecting the Governor's salary and retirement benefits from the state of Texas. The information came from a personal financial disclosure form he was required to submit by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). His campaign had twice sought delays and been granted two 45-day extensions before complying.

According to HT Politics, the 20-page document filed with the FEC shows that in addition to his $133,000 annual salary as Governor, Perry is collecting a $7,700 monthly state pension. State code permitted the Governor to begin collecting this pension in January. State employees are allowed to collect benefits if their years of military and state service plus their ages add up to more than 80. Perry qualifies, having counted five years in the Air Force and 24 years in Texas public service. He served as a part-time legislator, as Agricultural Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor before assuming the Governors seat when Governor George Bush became President.

However, rhetoric doesn't always match the record. Last May, at the close of Texas biennial legislative session, Perry signed SB 1669 into law. At a time when the Lone Star State's dismal education system is suffering and the states teachers are losing their jobs, HT Politics reported that the bill prohibits teachers from participating in the very same kind of double dipping for their first year after retirement.

The article continued, His [Perrys] decision to begin collecting retirement pay while on the public payroll will likely expose him to criticism from conservatives who complain that public sector employees are too generously compensated. The Republican comptroller of Texas said just this week that lawmakers need to review the pension system because it was burdening state finances.

Perry said in a KEYE-TV news broadcast that when he was informed he was eligible, he thought it would be "foolish not to access what you've earned." Perry has campaigned on a platform that criticizes Washington, has pledged to reform big government, and has called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Even his book Fed Up, released in 2010, attempted to outline what ails Washington and get to the root of the big government problem. One of the books themes is in support of the Tenth Amendment and a return to the independent spirit which built America, particularly Texas, and that Americans dont want or need cradle to grave patronage.

The "independent Texan" rhetoric falls apart, though, upon further examination of the financial document. According to, the document also requires a listing of jobs held outside of government. Perry, a career politician, lists none, as he has never had a non-government job.

The timing of the documents release could hardly be worse for the Governors presidential campaign. Just hours after the document became public, in Thursdays GOP debate, Perry said of Washington's politicians, "Cut their pay in half, their staff in half, their time in Washington in half. Send them home! Let them get a job like everybody else back home has."

Texas defines two different classes of state workers, the employees and the elected class. After he leaves office, Perry will be allowed to retire in both systems, and will also receive healthcare from the state for life. Critics have noted that Perry's record has never synched with his rhetoric, and this most recent revelation adds fuel to the fire.

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