Texas Gov. Perry's job figures are exaggerated, says watchdog group

A Texas watchdog group issued a scathing analysis Wednesday of Gov. Rick Perry's much-ballyhooed jobs program, saying the governor exaggerated its success and noting that a third of the 54,000 jobs he said have been created since 2003 are actually unfulfilled employment pledges.

The Texas Enterprise Fund paid $51 million to three companies to maintain existing employment, Texans for Public Justice said.

And not all jobs were earmarked for Americans, let alone Texans.

Portugal-based Martifer Energy Systems, which received nearly $1 million, disclosed in May that 11 of 21 employees for a fund-subsidized plant in San Angelo were awaiting U.S. work visas, the group said. A $4,305 penalty was imposed, the group reported.

Katherine Cessinger, a Perry aide, said that fund recipients have been hurt by the recession and that the state is willing to amend agreement terms rather than risk the loss of future jobs. But Cessinger did not dispute any of the findings.

"Because the goal of the TEF is to create jobs, the state is willing to consider an amended contract that may provide fewer jobs or provide an extended job creation deadline, rather than ending the contract and losing future jobs for Texans," she said in an e-mail. "Companies whose contracts were amended were required to provide comparable value back to the state."

On Tuesday, Perry's office disclosed that Enterprise Fund contracts with Bank of America and Gulfstream were terminated and that goals and deadlines were eased on 11 others.

Texans for Public Justice found that just 13 of 45 job-related contracts met targets. Aside from the two canceled contracts, 10 are deemed "troubled," meaning their ability to meet job goals is in doubt, the group said.

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