Face to Face With Rick Perry

Five thousand one hundred and forty-four days—that will be the length of Governor Perry’s administration when he steps down on January 20, 2015, in accordance with article 4, section 4, of the Texas constitution. That longevity is unprecedented in Texas politics. To put it in perspective, consider that Perry will have served as governor nearly two years longer than Franklin Delano Roo-sevelt was president. During Perry’s time in office, Texas added six million residents; George W.

The Rick Perry Report Card

Our highest executive officer has long touted his record on economics, and rightly so (see the “Texas miracle”). But can he claim the same success in public health? Or criminal justice? Or higher ed? Here’s a look at his leadership in eight areas of public policy, letter grades included.

 

Exit, Stage Center

Of all the issues that the Legislature tackled last year, few were as unlikely as pension reform. When it comes to entitlements, the people who benefit from the status quo are usually suspicious of change, and the pols who are supposed to keep our finances sound are usually too concerned with the here and now to worry about how much money the government is going to have to hand out years down the line.

Perry Report Card: Criminal Justice

Yesterday, when we unveiled the cover of our July issue featuring Rick Perry, we also told you about "The Perry Report Card," an upcoming magazine feature where, as the title suggests, we graded the tenure of the governor on eight areas of public policy. We invited you to weigh in with your own grades for Perry on the subject of transparency and ethics. Under consideration today is his work on criminal justice. 

Perry is (in)famously tough on crime. He fully endorses the use of the ultimate punishment (when warranted), and to that end has signed off on more executions than any other governor in modern history. And his record on that is unlikely to be exceeded, because the number of death sentences issued in Texas has dropped sharply since 2005--when he signed a law giving juries the option of sentencing murderers to life without parole. And that's just one of the ways in which his record is more nuanced than one might think. At the end of this past legislative session, he signed the Michael Morton Act (which is designed to prevent wrongful criminal convictions) into law, and earlier this year, he also came out in favor of letting states choose if marijuana should be decriminalized in their communities. 

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