The Austin American-Statesman reports on a state program to fund agribusiness startups that Rick Perry oversaw back when we was Texas’ commissioner of agriculture in the ’90s:
Over his eight years as Texas’ farmer-in-chief, Perry oversaw a loan guarantee program with so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to startups in agribusiness and eventually bailed out the program with taxpayer money.
The state auditor panned Perry’s claims of creating jobs and criticized Perry and his fellow board members at the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority for not following their own lending guidelines.
In some instances, the auditor said, Perry and the authority guaranteed loans to applicants with a negative net worth or too much debt. Citing growing debts, the auditor finally suggested that state officials consider dismantling the program.
Even as the first alarms were sounded, Perry defended the program, saying no taxpayer money was at risk, blaming others and claiming he had fixed it.
The kicker is this: In 2009, the Texas legislature passed — and Perry signed — a bill to pay off the $14.7 million in bad loans the state had guaranteed in the poorly managed program.