Friday, November 21st, 2014

White's three-piece dart: Debt, spending, shortfall, all on Perry

Bill White speaks while stumping against Gov. Rick Perry (Associated Press photo).
Bill White speaks while stumping against Gov. Rick Perry (Associated Press photo).

According to the Texas Truth-O-Meter, Bill White has been correct in saying that state spending and state debt have near doubled in Rick Perry's decade-plus as governor--and he's also right that the state eyes a revenue shortfall that could be $18 billion by next year.

In February, we noted that several state budgets had been balanced on Perry’s watch, in accord with a constitutional mandate. For our article, we compared how much state spending was budgeted before Perry became governor to the latest budget. Spending of non-dedicated state general revenue has gone up $25 billion since the 2000-01 budget -- an 80 percent increase in Perry's time as governor.

Right after Perry and White won their primaries, we rated as True the Democrat’s statement that state debt had almost doubled with Perry as governor, largely due to transportation-related decisions.

Yet it might be a stretch to pin all the blame on Perry, an observer told us. Eva DeLuna Castro, a senior budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said: "Voters do that, and the Legislature. So we're all responsible."

And what of expectations of an $18 billion shortfall in state revenue by next year?

This month, we found False Perry’s statement that the widely quoted $18 billion figure was simply plucked out of the air. The $18 billion budget gap figure has been cited by state leaders using the best information they now have available. See the article, and its trove of spending-related numbers, here.

Count on more back and forth surely including fresh shots from both candidates. Most immediately, White stands to have a limelight moment this week at the Texas Democratic Party's  state convention in Corpus Christi. We plan to be there.