5. In 2002, Perry promised to reform school financing, but by 2011 school financing is in such a mess that school districts in Texas are faced with signficant layoffs.
In the wake of a $4 billion reduction in school funding that was backed by Perry, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association has estimated that job losses at public schools could reach 49,000 by the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Perry disclaimed responsibility for any possible job losses, saying:
The lieutenant governor, the speaker, their colleagues aren’t going to hire or fire one teacher, as best I can tell. That is a local decision that will be made at the local districts.
And with the teacher layoffs contributing to the state’s unemployment figures, Texas now has the highest unemployment rate since 1987. It’s a small consolation that jobs have been created during Perry’s tenure, while the actual rate of unemployment has soared to 8.5%.
Perry’s record in tackling school finances does not bode well for his ability to deal with more complex financial problems such as Social Security and the national debt.