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Fact-checking columnists

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Published on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.

A pair of New York Times columnists have written a Manhattan mile about Texas lately, prompting us to check their claims about the state of our state.  

We checked two claims from a Jan. 6 column by Paul Krugman, a liberal Nobel Prize-winning economist who pens op-eds for the Times. Saying that the "modern conservative theory of budgeting" doesn’t jibe with fiscal reality, Krugman said that "data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggested that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels." We rated that Mostly True: At the time, the projected Texas shortfall was nowhere near New Jersey’s level. The comparisons of expected shortfalls in Texas, New York and California were accurate.

Another sally: Texas is "leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance." We gave that one full marks: By available indicators, including a Gallup poll and Census Bureau data, Texas has the nation’s highest share of uninsured residents.

Most recently, we checked a claim by Gail Collins, who, in a Feb. 16 column, Collins said that Texas "ranks third in teen pregnancies... and it is No. 1 in repeat teen pregnancies. She goofed slightly. Find out how we rated it.

There’s more testable material in their copy including Krugman’s claim that the poorest Texas residents pay more in state and local taxes than the national average, and Collins’ charge that Gov. Rick Perry used $3.2 billion in stimulus dollars intended for schools to plug other budget holes.

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Researchers: W. Gardner Selby

Names in this article: Gail Collins, Paul Krugman

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