Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Tuesday that the focus on equal pay in the race to succeed him as governor is “nonsense,” since he said laws addressing the issue were already on the books.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate, has hammered her opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), for claiming that existing law is enough to protect a woman’s right to equal pay. Davis had also sponsored a state version of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that Perry vetoed last year.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Perry said he understood Davis’ message, but asked “Why do we need to muddle up our statutes when we already have laws on the book that clearly take care of this?”
“I support and help lift up women in the state of Texas as do I think our policies in the state,” he said. “But for the sole purpose of politics — and let’s face it, this was passed for no other reason than to say we’re going to make you veto this bill.”
The governor listed the accomplishments of his wife and daughters and added that his secretary of state, Nandita Berry, is the first Asian-American in that position in Texas history.
“They have my support, as do all women across — my chief of staff is a woman,” he said. “I mean, I probably got more female chiefs of staff than anybody in Texas history. And the fact is, they get paid well because of the performance that they do.”
Gender pay disparity came to the forefront of the Texas governor’s race last week, when the San Antonio Express-News reported that Abbott’s office pays female assistant attorneys general less on average than men in the same position. The Houston Chronicle later reported that in Davis’ Senate office, female staffers actually make roughly $3,000 more on average than male employees.
But Perry suggested the gender pay gap was not a “substantive” issue in the race.
“If they want to talk about substantive issues in Texas in this governor’s race, let’s talk about tax policy, regulatory policy, legal policies,” he said. “But to go focus on this issue of a piece of legislation that that we already have law that is protect it is nonsense.”