WASHINGTON – Gov. Rick Perry has hammered Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison time and again as a Washington-style big spender. He decries the $2.6 billion that she slipped "secretly" into the last two annual budgets.
But he doesn't know the half of it.
By Hutchison's own accounting, she has steered $8.7 billion to Texas in the last five years. And as Congress finalizes the 2010 budget, the haul will probably exceed $10 billion – a staggering sum that has never been tallied before. It ranks her among the most successful earmarkers in congressional history.
How that plays in the GOP gubernatorial primary will hinge on whether voters buy Perry's argument – that earmarks drive up deficits and reflect a culture of unbridled spending – or Hutchison's view that she deserves kudos, not insults, for taking care of the state's universities, transit systems, hospitals and cities.
"I just get constant jabbing from the governor. Why wouldn't I fight for Texas?" Hutchison said. "I'm proud of my effectiveness. To be hit for being effective for Texas is puzzling."
Earmarks refer to programs that aren't competitively bid. Critics say they sap funding from higher priority projects and invite abuse.
Rick's peeps made a great video about it...