Gov. Rick Perry's Stances on 5 Issues You Care About

June 4th 2015

Sarah Gray

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is joining the crowded GOP field running for President. He'll make a speech announcing his run on Thursday. Perry, who governed Texas for 14 years, ran for president back in 2012. However, his campaign was upturned by a series of gaffes.

The Texas conservative, is making another attempt for the White House. Here is where he stands on five issues Millennials care about: higher education, marijuana, immigration, the environment, and LGBT rights.

1. Higher Education

During the 2012 race, Rick Perry stated that he would eliminate the Department of Education if elected president. He has also stated that the federal government has no place in education and rejected millions in funding due to "strings" attached to the money. It is unclear what this would mean for higher education, student loans, and federal grants such as Pell grants, as he has said little on the subject.

In terms of college affordability in Perry's state of Texas, he has a mixed record. In 2011 he called for a $10,000 tuition plan, which according to Credible was less of an initiative than an incentive for colleges in Texas. Still some responded by instituting lower-cost education plans -- shorter degree programs for adults in the workforce, and more college credit for high school students. The overall plan had mixed results.

However, his market-based solutions for higher education, known as the "seven breakthrough solutions," led to a clash between Perry and the University of Texas system -- notably U.T.-Austin president Bill Powers. The solutions included "rating professors, based on student assessments; separating teaching and research; and including revenue as one measure of whether a program or class should continue," according to the New York Times. The response to this plan was also mixed. "In short, it’s a push toward turning universities into profit centers, not learning centers," the LA Times stated of the plan back in 2013. Others saw it as a plan to make college more accessible, chipping away at the ivory tower.

2. Marijuana

In 2014 Gov. Rick Perry told Jimmy Kimmel that he had never smoked marijuana, and he is staunchly against the legalization of marijuana. However, when it comes to decriminalizing marijuana and states rights, Perry has a moderate stance.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos back in 2014, Perry said he was working in the direction of the decriminalization of marijuana in his state of Texas.

"After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past," Perry said, according to the Austin-American Statesman. "What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade"

Perry later discussed the issue -- getting loud cheers, after being booed -- on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2014. Kimmel asked if marijuana would be decriminalized in Texas by 2015.

"We've kind of done that," Perry . "You don't want to ruin a kid's life for having a joint."

In terms of states' rights to legalize marijuana, Perry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt the following:

“Well, I’m a big believer in the 10th Amendment. I don’t agree with those decisions that were made by that, by the state of Colorado or Washington, but I will defend it to my death, if you will, to allow them to make those decisions. So you know, I think I’m closer to Ted [Cruz] there than I am to Chris [Christie].”

Later on the radio show he reiterated this point.

“So I happen to believe that those states have that right to experiment if you want to call it that. I think they will look back and they will find that it was a huge error that they made. But I’m going to stick with the Founding Fathers rather than picking and choosing which ones I want to defend and which ones I don’t.”

3. Immigration

In terms of the Republican party, Perry stands out for not just his stance on immigration but previous policies that he implemented while Governor of Texas.

Perry is a strong supporter of securing the border and has consistently insisted upon more boots on the ground at the border to send a strong message to other countries. He also did not support President Obama's executive order on immigration.

"Well, here's what I think is very important for Washington to understand: You're not going to have comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secure," Perry told Fox News Sunday in 2014. "The American people do not trust Washington to do these two things at the same time. They expect the border to be safe and secured. They want to be able to live in their communities and feel like they're safe. And if this president does not do what's required to secure the border first, I will suggest to you: whatever he does is going to be a failure."

Despite that, he has shown support for DREAMers -- or undocumented children who were brought across the border at no fault of their own. He supported the Texas Dream Act, which gives in-state tuition for undocumented students in the state of Texas.

“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said during the 2011 debates. He also explained that it makes economic sense for undocumented children to receive in-state tuition. He stated: "We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society." 

And though he has since retracted the specific phrasing that he used during those debates, as recently as January of 2015, Perry is standing by his support of the Texas Dream Act.

4. Environment

Rick Perry does not believe in climate change, and has accused scientists of "manipulating data," to support the theory. 

“I don’t believe that we have the settled science by any sense of the imagination to stop that kind of economic opportunity,” he said in June of 2014. He has also employed the popular "I'm not a scientist" phrase that many politicians dole out as a reason why they don't accept climate change.

According to Mother Jones, "[Perry] regularly fought the EPA over the Clean Air Act compliance," including suing the EPA in 2010 as an attempt to prevent the agency from regulating the release of greenhouse gases.

He is a supporter of the Keystone Pipeline, saying it would bring jobs. (Oil is a large sector of the Texas economy, and it was potentially the oil boom, though it is tough to say, that brought along higher employment during Perry's tenure as governor, according to economist Ray Perryman.)

5. LGBT Rights

Perry has come under fire for his comments about homosexuality and gay marriage. Earlier in 2015, Perry said he would "probably" attend a gay wedding, however he stated that the question of whether or not he would attend was a "gotcha" question from the left.

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At an event in 2014, Perry compared being gay to being an alcoholic. “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” he stated. "I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Perry, as an avowed supporter of the 10th Amendment, has stated that other states vote on the issue in the way they see fit (and that supporters of gay marriage should just move to another state). And in 2014, when a judge struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage, which was voted on in 2005, Perry issued the following statement:

“Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state.”

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