Fact-checking Perry’s tele-town hall

Gov. Rick Perry on line one.
Gov. Rick Perry on line one.

During a tele-town hall Monday night hosted by the conservative Empower Texans, Gov. Rick Perry responded to a caller’s question about public school employees who might lose their jobs because of state budget cuts.

This particular caller, from Grapevine, wondered how the state’s economy can survive with "100,000 teachers out of work." In January, Lynn Moak, a school finance consultant, said that as many as 100,000 school district jobs could be eliminated as a result of significant cuts to state aid for public schools, according to a Jan. 19  Austin American-Statesman news article.

Perry replied that "the idea that 100,000 teachers are going to be thrown out on the street is incomprehensible." He suggested that the number has been introduced to create fear.

"I don’t deal with fear and things that are not real," Perry said. "I deal with facts."

Speaking of facts, we heard Perry statements and promises in the call that we’ve looked at before.

When Frank from Fort Worth asked Perry about legislation requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls, Perry called it a "strong bill that says voting in Texas is precious."

Stumping for re-election last year, Perry said: "We’re going to do voter ID in 2011." After Perry made the issue an emergency item for the session, we rated that promise In the Works. Since then, legislation has passed the Senate and is working its way through the House.

Thrice in Monday’s call, Perry promised to balance the 2012-13 state budget without raising taxes. During the campaign, he similarly said that "Texas will continue to live within its means, and under my leadership, we will do it without a tax increase." We haven’t rated that promise yet, though count on the meter moving by the end of the session.

Perry also touted Texas’ job market. "Twenty percent of all jobs in America were created in Texas last year," he said, later adding that the state also "created more jobs than any other state in the nation." In February, we rated the latter claim True, based on net job gains.

When a Houston caller asked if Texas was going to join other states in suing the federal government over a new law requiring most individuals to buy health insurance — Texas already has — Perry said the state has run projections on the cost of "ObamaCare" to Texas, Perry said the state’s projections show the state spending "a staggering $27 billion over the next 10 years."

He was closer to the truth on Monday than when he made a similar statement we rated Barely True in December. Calling the law "one of the greatest intrusions into our lives," Perry said then that it would cost Texas upwards of $30 billion over the next decade. All told, the claim was correct in one sense: Federal health care reform will eventually cost the state billions — $27 billion, according to the Texas Health and Human Service Commission’s estimate. But that projection covers 2014 through 2023, not the next 10 years."

There was more to Perry’s call — did you listen in? Notice different statements we should check? Write us at politifact@statesman.com.