Friday, December 19th, 2014

Is Perry keeping his promises?

Several of Gov. Rick Perry's campaign promises are In the Works.
Several of Gov. Rick Perry's campaign promises are In the Works.

Gov. Rick Perry inched closer to keeping a campaign promise last week as legislation requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls advanced at the Capitol.

In a February 2010 video response to a question from the Austin Tea Party Patriots, Perry vowed to ensure that state lawmakers act on the issue that roiled — and stymied — the 2009 Legislature. In January, Perry declared voter ID legislation an emergency item, allowing lawmakers to vote on it sooner than usual. The Senate passed the legislation Jan. 26.

After the House approved its version of the bill late Wednesday, Perry said: "I look forward to this legislation reaching my desk very soon."

When he picks up the pen, we’ll change the rating of that promise from In the Works to Kept on our Perry-O-Meter, which we rolled out in January to track the pledges the governor made while stumping around Texas.

We compiled Perry’s promises from news accounts, his campaign and office Web pages, press releases, prepared remarks and videos.

Now, we’re more than halfway through the legislative session. How’s Perry doing on his 34 other promises?

Most of Perry’s promises are Not Yet Rated — one of the six potential ratings, including Broken and Compromise — because we haven’t yet seen evidence of progress that warrants moving the Perry-O-Meter forward.

But Perry has already earned two Kept ratings by declaring two other emergency items on the legislative session’s opening day. The first, protecting private property from some takings by eminent domain, fulfilled a Perry promise we found in an Aug. 14 San Angelo Standard-Times news column. The second, abolishing sanctuary cities — where policies direct local law enforcement not to tell federal authorities about someone who might be an illegal immigrant — followed through on a pledge we noted in an Oct. 7 Houston Chronicle blog post.

Still unresolved, however, is Perry’s promise to sign eminent domain reform legislation into law before the end of the session. On Feb. 9, the Texas Senate unanimously approved legislation prohibiting a government agency or private entity from taking property through eminent domain "if the taking is not for a public use" or in the public interest. The legislation is currently making its way to the House floor.

For now, that’s one of the nine promises we’ve rated as In the Works.

We recently moved four other meters to In the Works after lawmakers filed legislation mirroring a four-pronged proposal Perry put forward in September to attack lawsuits he considers frivolous, including a vow to make "losers" pay a defendant’s attorney fees if a court determines that the lawsuit is groundless.

And Perry’s earned three more In the Works since the session’s start.

— The governor showed progress last month on his promise to secure $830 million in education aid that’s stalled in Washington when he met with congressional leaders "to discuss efforts to defeat" a provision in a federal law setting special conditions for Texas to get the money. The measure, added to legislation last summer by U.S. House Democrats from Texas, requires the Texas governor to assure that the state will maintain at least its current percentage of financial support for public education through 2013. Perry has said the state constitution prevents him from making that commitment.

— Perry applauded Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate last week for introducing legislation "honoring" his August request last year to "toughen the laws" against human traffickers. On March 23, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, to increase to a first-degree felony the penalty for compelling a child into prostitution, among other provisions designed to crackdown on human trafficking. She and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, have also filed legislation to create a new criminal offense for "continuous human-trafficking" — a first degree felony that could land someone in prison for 25 years to life.

— In a video posted on his campaign website in September 2009, Perry said he wanted to make permanent "the recent tax cut extended to 40,000 small businesses." He was referring to a 2009 law that increased the number of businesses exempt from paying the state’s franchise tax. Previously, companies with less than $300,000 in annual revenue did not have to pay; the 2009 measure temporarily raised that threshold to $1 million. This session, lawmakers have filed at least eight bills to make the $1 million exemption permanent.

Have we missed a campaign promise or progress Perry’s made toward keeping one? Let us know. In the meantime, we’ll be watching the governor’s office for more movement as the regular session draws to a close.

But there’s one campaign promise we won’t be able judge for a while: Whether Perry really won’t run for president. However, the recent departure of a top Perry aide who left to join Newt Gingrich as he explores a presidential candidacy suggests Perry will keep this one.