Wall Street Journal examines the Texas Enterprise Fund

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The article, a copy of which was sent to me, casts doubts on the methodology used by the governor’s office to calculate the number of jobs created. Citing the governor’s website, the article says that the Enterprise Fund has given out $440 million in taxpayer grants, yielding more than 59,000 new (and promised) jobs. One high-profile grant, for $50 million, went to Texas A&M to establish a “Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine.” (Readers may recall that this grant led to a stormy meeting of the House Appropriations Committee with Perry’s staff in 2009.) Perry counted more than 12,000 new jobs, with another 5,000 expected by 2015. But, the Journal article says, only 10 people work in the new building. A biotech firm that was supposed to account for 12,000 additional jobs was supposed to create 1,600 jobs, but instead cut its Texas staff by around 400 people. Here is how Perry manipulated the numbers: “To reach their estimate of 12,000-plus jobs created by the project, officials included every position added in Texas since 2005 in fields sometimes related only tangentially to biotechnology–such as dental equipment, fertilizer manufacturing, and medical imaging. At M.D. Anderson, “officials didn’t stop at jobs added at the imaging facility. Also counted were almost every position added at the entire cancer center and another university health center. This allowed the governor’s office to bring the tally up to 2,600 jobs. The state’s contract with M.D. Anderson allowed for the jobs calculation to include anybody hired “in support of research initiatives and clinical activity.” * * * * The troubling thing about this story is that Perry didn’t have to inflate the numbers. He could have played it straight. Most of these grants from the Enterprise Fund went to promising scientific advances. Some recipients, like Countrywide Financial, weren’t so good, but on the whole, the projects at A&M and M.D. Anderson will probably pay big dividends someday. Perry isn’t the first politician to inflate his resume, but he has done himself a disservice by casting doubts on the authenticity of what he has accomplished. And he will hear about it in future debates–if not the one tonight.

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