As described by the Dallas Morning News in a July article, Rick Perry was able to turn the constitutionally-limited position of governor into one of the most powerful positions within Texas government. Perry accomplished this transformation in five ways.
First, because he has held the office for over 12 years, Perry has had a hand in over 3,000 appointments across every board and commission in the state. Unsurprisingly, many of these 3,000 are staunch Perry loyalists.
Second, the Republican-dominated legislature empowered Perry to name the head of Health and Human Services, as well as the stated’s education and insurance commissioners.
Third, the legislature’s embrace of the economic incentive programs such as the Texas Enterprise Fund, long championed by Perry, gave the governor discretion in awarding over $600 million in incentive money to businesses. Perry often attributes a great deal of the economic success of Texas over the last decade to these programs. The business community has reciprocated this support, which leads to the fourth reason for expanded gubernatorial power: Perry has the support of a handful of very wealthy donors who are willing to help advance his agenda and help with his fundraising.
Finally, Perry has shrewdly wielded his veto power during his tenure. Legislators who pushed bills opposed by Perry have seen legislation dear to them vetoed as a result. Whether the next governor is able to maintain the expanded power of the office is unclear, but if the successor is on good terms with Perry, it is safe to say that or she will benefit from the statewide network of Perry appointees that will exist for years to come.
Joe B Garza