Rick Perry's Real Legacy: Leaving Texas Families Behind

Addressing stagnant wages and closing the gap between the mega-rich and everyone else, rightly, will be one of the signature economic issues of the 2016 presidential election.

That's unfortunate timing for Rick Perry, who spent his years as Governor of Texas widening that gap, making it harder and harder for families to reach the middle class and achieve the American Dream.

As governor, Rick Perry created two different states in Texas -- one for his wealthy and well-connected friends, and another for working and middle class Texans, who have to live with the consequences of his policies. And he would do the same thing for the country if elected president.

As governor, Rick Perry swelled the state's debt to $44 billion while giving away massive tax cuts for the rich.

When he last ran for president, Perry supported instituting a flat tax, which would result in a massive windfall for the richest Americans and shift the nation's tax burden onto the backs of middle-class and working families.

As governor, Rick Perry used his office to benefit political contributors, and earned two felony indictments for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

But when it comes to issues that everyday Texans and everyday Americans care about, Rick Perry has a different set of rules.

Care about equal pay? Rick Perry vetoed Texas's version of the Lilly Ledbetter bill, which would have helped protect women in Texas from pay discrimination. He called the debate over equal pay "nonsense." Tell that to Texas women who make 79 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.

Perry's anti-woman agenda didn't stop there. Thanks to his anti-choice policies like defunding Planned Parenthood and other family planning programs, half of the women in Texas face difficult barriers to exercising their right to choose and make their own health care decisions. Currently, Texas is fifth highest in teenage pregnancy, lagging behind the rest of the country.

Care about health insurance? The Texas business community agrees that expanding Medicaid - the federal government's health insurance plan for the less fortunate that was signed into law by Texas's own President Lyndon Johnson -- is a smart business decision. Texas's economy would be strengthened with thousands of new jobs and billions in federal funds for our health system. Nonetheless, Perry refused to partner with the Texas legislature to find a Texas solution, despite the state having the highest uninsured rate in the country. When asked about that high uninsured rate and Medicaid expansion, Perry claimed "that's what Texans wanted."

Care about education? Perry cut Texas' neighborhood school funding by 25 percent, and his decision to deregulate tuition rates for Texas state universities sent tuition soaring by 64 percent.

Care about wages? As president, Perry would refuse to raise the minimum wage, and doesn't even believe in the minimum wage at the federal level. This is all while Texas leads the nation in minimum-wage workers, and at the end of Perry's term, 1.5 million more Texans were living in poverty.

To top it off, Perry embarrassed our state with his cringe-worthy, bigoted rhetoric and out-of-touch social views. He compared gay people to alcoholics. He has made false immigration claims to drum up fear and panic with no facts to back it up. While governor, he made multiple bizarre claims about Texas seceding from the nation. And no one can forget the time he forgot which federal agencies he wanted to cut, embarrassing himself and the state of Texas on a national stage, and making it clear how seriously he took his candidacy. 'Oops' was right, and we'd be fools to think he's changed.

After spending his time in office creating two different states in Texas -- one for the mega-rich and another for everyone else -- voters are rightly skeptical of someone like Rick Perry in the White House. Americans are crying out for a compassionate leader who will address stagnant wages and disappearing opportunities for the middle class, not someone who will make these problems worse. Americans deserve better than a Perry presidency.