I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone.' Ann Richards.Ann Richards served as Governor of Texas 1990-1994. This was a great place to live until Governors Bush and Perry ruined it.
Now that we know the Governor's political appointees have turned the state's taxpayer funded cancer prevention institute (CPRIT) into a cash cow for themselves and their cronies in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, state legislators want to take a hard look at two of Rick Perry's pet projects. This is especially necessary now that CPRIT is under criminal investigation.
These funds would be none other than the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund. These funds were created as a means by which to attract businesses to the state as well as to advance various technologies here.
But both have been shrouded in secrecy with little oversight or accountability. Since the Governor controls these funds and knowing what we know about CPRIT, one has to wonder if their prime motive is to merely serve as corporate welfare programs or as slush funds from which Rick Perry can reward his campaign donors.
It is shocking really, that it taken state legislators so long to question the motives of the Governor's grant awards especially given that some of the recipients' companies have failed to deliver the jobs promised. Worse, there are actual reports of phantom jobs.
That and Rick Perry has had a Solyandra problem of his own
It is more than disappointing, really, that the Legislature have not demanded routine and independent audits of these taxpayer funded programs. Does small government mean no accountability at all? The Governor can do whatever he wants? No questions asked? It seems this the way it has worked in Rick Perry's ruby red state.
My guess is the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Funds have been going down the same diseased path as CPRIT. As infuriating as it is to know that the state Legislature had turned a blind eye to the Governor's pervasive and cancerous cronyism if not outright corruption, I suppose a couple of the legislators' calls for action is better late than never.
There is nothing more necessary than a little sunlight and disinfectant in situations in which a Governor will routinely default to secrecy over accountability. Please see the state Senators' demands for transparency below.
Cross posted on Texas Kaos.
Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, and Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, stepped up their calls for greater oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund one day after a Perry aide who oversees the entities struggled to provide hard evidence that the funds were generating jobs as intended and providing an ample return on the state's multimillion-dollar investment.Welcome to Rick Perry's Texas.
Apparently the Governor has headed to California in order to lure businesses there to move to Texas. I imagine Rick Perry will fail to mention this is a low-wage right to work state that has severely slashed social programs for the elderly and poor. Whatever one does, one should definitely not bring Granny to Texas if she depends upon medicaid. Come to think of it, one had better leave the kids with Granny b/c the schools in Rick Perry's Texas rank second to last nationwide. Worse, the Texas Taliban is working around the clock to replace science curricula with religion.
If a guy's company is moving him here he should know that his wife would be better off in California given Rick Perry and the Texas Taliban's war on woman's rights.
Perry, meanwhile, turned his attention to California, announcing he was jetting off Sunday for three days to try to lure businesses to the Lone Star State.
"If Gov. Perry really cared about investing in Texas and creating high-wage jobs here, he'd fight to restore public education funding," said Davis, a member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development. "Instead, our governor is taking a junket to California - really, I think, for political drama rather than for any economic impact."
Indeed, the Governor is more about political drama, sound bytes and grandstanding than he is with substance or schools.
Davis said she plans to ask the state auditor to investigate the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund, both of which are operated out of the governor's office. She also is calling for the two programs to undergo sunset review, which is a thorough probe by lawmakers that other state agencies must undergo regularly.Earth to Senator Deuell, the Governor is accused of crony capitalism because he is a crony capitalist. His record proves it.
Deuell, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Development, said the two funds must be vetted by the state auditor, the comptroller or a sunset committee.
"The governor gets accused of capitol cronyism and I think that's overstated," he said. "But, nonetheless, we need to make sure the system's done fairly and that the awards are based upon merit.
That and the Governor's spokesman could not provide answers to the Senator's questions about the number of jobs created.
While the enterprise fund is forecast to create 66,000 jobs, when Davis pressed Demerson on how many new jobs actually exist because of the program, he could not answer. Davis also questioned whether $2 million in returns on $184 million in taxpayer funds in the Emerging Technology Fund was sufficient.Demerson can't answer the questions because if he does, his goose might be cooked.
At several points in the hearing when asked probing questions, Demerson said he did not have the answers and promised to reply later in writing.
But he did confess to a couple of sins.
Under questioning from Deuell, Demerson acknowledged that as many as 12 companies funded by the Emerging Technology Fund were under review or subject to litigation. He said many of the companies receiving enterprise fund money have not created the number of jobs originally promised and as a result his office has revised those contracts to set lower targets.Dude, when you are messing with state dollars and the people's money, you do draw that line in the sand.
"Our goal is to really work with the companies. We want a win-win situation, but there are state dollars and an obligation there," he said. "We're not drawing a line in the sand and saying one or the other, we want to work through that and if there is a win situation that protects the taxpayer dollars, we're going to do it that way."
Welcome to Rick Perry's crony capitalist Texas. Even Sarah Palin would agree.