How Rick Perry created the "Texas Miracle"

Texas governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 18, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 2011 Republican Leadership Conference features keynote addresses from most of the major republican candidates for president as well as numerous republican leaders from across the country.
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to join the GOP presidential race Saturday, is the longest serving governor in the nation. He won re-election last year by a wide margin. He's 61 years old, married to his childhood sweetheart, and graduated from Texas A&M.

Perry is going to have a big effect on this race. CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews looks at his record on the Texas economy.

It's his most important accomplishment and and one Texas-sized claim.

"Texas continues to lead the nation in job creation," Gov. Rick Perry once said.

Some call this the "Texas Miracle." But with Perry as governor, the state has added hundreds of thousands more jobs than any state by far. And in a country desperate for jobs, this issue -- and Perry's claim that he deserves the credit -- sets him apart.

"We're hiring, we can't hire people fast enough," said Jeff Brown of California-based EA video games. He said the company is adding 300 jobs in Austin, Texas, partly because of low costs, but also because of Perry's three trips to persuade EA to move.

"They've come to us specifically in the company," said Brown, "and said, 'What do you need tell us what you need,' and for the most part they follow through on it."

Perry calls his formula simple. "This isn't rocket science," he once said. "You keep the taxes relatively low, you have a regulatory climate that is fair."

But Perry also got lucky when high oil prices boosted energy-related jobs. His critics point to another figure: Texas' high unemployment rate at 8.2 percent is one point below the national rate that is daunting President Obama.

Perry's bedrock pledge to never raise taxes also had a reckoning this year, when his budget faced a $27-billion shortfall. With taxes not an option, Texas cut deeply into health care and so deeply into education, some 49,000 teachers are being laid off.

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"Do you see a Texas miracle?" Andrews asked Rachel Zertuche, a veteran middle school teacher

"No, I see a Texas tragedy."

Zertuche called her layoff the cost of low taxes.

"Realize that your child will be in a classroom that will have a larger number of students," she said. "Your child will have less individual time with their teachers, so everything comes at a price."

Perry now enters this race as both a Tea Party and evangelical conservative -- a man so religious he once asked Texans to pray for three days of rain. He will need to push the job issue to appeal to voters in the middle.

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.