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By Sue Owen April 23, 2012

No state money appropriated for D.C. Vietnam memorial Education Center

Speaking to veterans at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in April 2010, Gov. Rick Perry said he would pursue state funding for the proposed Education Center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington.

"In Austin, I"m going to work with the Legislature to ensure Texas does its part to make this dream a reality by pursuing an appropriation that will enable Texas to bear its fair share of this project's costs," he said.

The Education Center project is collecting photos and stories for each name on the Wall. Dan Reese, chief financial officer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, told us $35 million has been pledged toward the $75 million goal, and groundbreaking is scheduled for Veterans" Day, November 11, 2012.

Reese told us by telephone that the organization has not received appropriations from any state, and is concentrating on private and corporate donations.

For our part, we found no documentation of Perry seeking an appropriation for the center. His desire for such an action also was not part of his February 2011 "State of the State” address laying out legislative priorities or the "2012-2013 Governor"s Budget,” a collection of proposals issued the same day.

In contrast, Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told us by email that Perry and the lieutenant governor"s office worked toward an appropriation.

Mike Walz, spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, told us by email that such funding did not progress because of the state"s revenue shortfall for the 2012-13 budget period, which was estimated to be as much as $27 billion.

A legislative assistant to state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, supporter of the Vietnam monument being placed at the Texas Capitol, told us by telephone that the Legislature passed a resolution praising work on the Washington center; that was HCR 123, which Perry signed April 12, 2011.

Individuals and companies from Texas have pledged $3 million to the Education Center, Reese said, and San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt has pledged to match every dollar donated by Texans up to $1 million.

Perry has aided in private fundraising, Reese said. Thomas Graham, president of the Austin-based media relations firm Crosswind Communications, told us Perry appeared at an April 19, 2011, Austin fundraiser for the center.

Our ruling

We have no reason to doubt that Perry and Dewhurst conferred about putting state aid toward the education center. However, no appropriation showed up in the budget, and there"s no documentation of Perry"s avowed request being pursued. For these reasons, we rate this a promise Broken.

Our Sources

Email interview with Catherine Frazier, deputy press secretary for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, April 11, 2012

Telephone and email interviews with Dan Reese, chief financial officer of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, April 10-11, 2012

General Appropriations Act 2012-2013, Texas Legislature, May 26, 2011

U.S. News & World Report blog entry, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry Raises Money for Vietnam War Project,” April 19, 2011

Telephone interview with Thomas Graham, president of Crosswind Communications public relations, April 13, 2012

Email interview with Michael Walz, communications director for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, April 13-17, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry, "State of the State” speech, February 8, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry, "2012-2013 Governor"s Budget,” February 8, 2011

Telephone interview with Luis Moreno, legislative assistant to state Sen. Juan "Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, April 17, 2012

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