Perry breaks state law, fails to report stimulus money

Link to article here.

Perry accepted $2 billion in stimulus money for road projects, 70% of which was slated to go to toll projects in a massive TRIPLE TAX scheme (gas tax, federal taxes to pay for stimulus, then another toll tax to use the road). It’s inexplicable that anyone would call this man a “fiscal conservative.”

Perry ducked state law on disclosing some stimulus money
Spending report was not posted on Web site as required.
By Laylan Copelin
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Published: 9:39 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Gov. Rick Perry has always publicly stiff-armed federal stimulus dollars, even as he accepted billions to balance the state budget and tens of millions that he could award to constituents.

He even ignored state law and his own executive order that require all state agencies and institutions of higher education to be “accountable and transparent” by posting their stimulus spending reports on their Web sites.

Until Tuesday, that is.

After a reporter’s inquiry, the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division began posting reports, some of them months old, on its Web site. Perry’s spokeswoman, Katherine Cesinger, would not elaborate on why the governor chose not to follow the law that he expected other state officials to follow.

State Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco , who leads the House committee overseeing federal stimulus programs in Texas, said Tuesday that he isn’t surprised by the governor’s actions.

“Unfortunately, it’s a pattern of the governor publicly distancing himself from the federal stimulus while accepting the majority of the money,” Dunnam said. “They took $16 billion, and most Texans think they haven’t taken any of it.”

Last year, Perry accepted about $16 billion in federal stimulus money so lawmakers could avoid deep budget cuts or tax increases. But he refused to accept smaller amounts for unemployment benefits and education programs, saying that money came with “strings attached,” an argument his critics rejected.

Perry’s failure to file reports on the governor’s Web site involves only the money administered directly through his office.

The governor’s office has received about $92.2 million of the $110 million it requested from the federal government for law enforcement purposes. About $81 million has been obligated and $6.8 million disbursed, according to the Comptroller of Public Accounts, which maintains weekly reports of the state’s stimulus activities.

Perry’s office submitted the weekly summaries with totals, but Texans looking for greater detail were directed from the weekly report back to the governor’s Web site to find a report from 2006 — three years before the stimulus program existed.

Citizens looking for spending details would have had to navigate the federal site,

recovery.gov, where all agencies, including the Texas governor, must post reports.

The Legislature demanded more disclosure than posting to the federal site. The appropriations act requires each state agency and higher education institution to post stimulus reports on their state Web sites for easier public access.

In his Aug. 25 executive order, Perry cited those requirements when he directed state officials “to maintain transparency and accountability in all cases.” He also required every agency to designate a representative “to maintain a flow of current information relating to the receipt, deployment, management and use of funds received by the state and any of its political subdivisions or contractors” under the stimulus program.

The governor’s office has been hands-on in administering the money, with senior adviser Mike Morrissey running meetings with agency officials once or twice a week until recently.

The information on state Web sites varies. The Texas Department of Transportation has a “project tracker” that shows each construction project, contractors, amounts being spent and location. It can be viewed at apps.dot.state.tx.us/apps/project_tracker/stimprojects.htm.

Even the tiny Texas Commission on the Arts has a link to all National Endowment for the Arts awards in Texas at www.nea.gov/grants/recent/09grants/states2/arra.php?STATE=TX.

The public can view the efforts by the governor’s office at governor.state.tx.us/cjd.

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