FORT WORTH, Texas -- Gov. Rick Perry's political stock has soared in recent months as he has traveled the country touting a decade of fiscal restraint in Texas under his leadership.
Last month, Perry made Texas history by signing a two-year state budget that cuts overall spending for the first time in over 40 years.
Perry has long promoted the state's fiscal record as a model for the country and a key to why Texas has weathered the recession better than most other states. He has opposed new taxes and been vehemently anti-Washington, and his message is drawing interest among Republican primary voters nationwide.
Yet before the latest one, the Texas budget had consistently grown during Perry's time as governor, with total spending rising faster than inflation and population growth, state data show.
What's more, spending through 2011, adjusted for population and inflation, rose more on average while Perry has been in charge than it did under his predecessor, George W. Bush, according to a Star-Telegram analysis.
In the past, Perry has criticized Bush for not controlling spending while governor.
"Let me tell you something," Perry told a small group of Iowa Republicans in 2007 while campaigning for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was running for president. "George Bush was never a fiscal conservative. ... I mean, '95, '97, '99, George Bush was spending money."
When Bush was governor, total state spending rose 13.3 percent every two years on average. Adjusting the figures for population growth and inflation, that growth rate was 2.3 percent.
Perry took the reins in December 2000. From then until 2011, spending increased an average of 16.8 percent every two years. Once adjusted for population and inflation, that rate falls to 4.2 percent. Adjusted spending figures in the just-passed 2012-13 budget are not yet available.
If Perry runs for president, his fiscal record in Texas is sure to draw more scrutiny, just as it did for Bush.
Read the complete story at star-telegram.com