AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar on Monday called on Gov. Rick Perry to reimburse Texas taxpayers for out-of-state security costs associated with his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Farrar, a nine-term state representative from Houston, also urged the governor to repay the money he started drawing last year as a state pension that supplements his salary. In all, Farrar wants Perry to write the state a check for nearly $2.7 million
"One way to protect taxpayers' money is by not spending it unnecessarily," the Democrat said in a letter to the governor. "But, if someone discovers tax dollars have been spent unnecessarily, it should be reimbursed either to general revenue or directly to taxpayers.
"With this in mind, I suggest you reimburse Texas taxpayers for the money you spent on travel expenses leading up to your withdraw from the GOP primary race."
The left-leaning action group, Progress Texas, said Monday that that it has collected some 3,500 online signatures on its petition calling on the governor to pay the state back.
Perry entered the presidential race in August and withdrew last week after poor showings in the early contests. The governor's spokeswoman, Lucy Nashed, said the concerns about Perry wasting taxpayers' money are baseless.
"Not a dime of the governor's political travel was borne by Texas taxpayers," she said. "Gov. Perry is governor no matter where he goes and the Department of Public Safety has a policy of providing security for governors and their families everywhere they travel, as they have back several administrations.
"These policies are determined by DPS and not the governor's office," she added.
Farrar put the campaign-related security costs at $2.6 million. The state has paid Perry more than $92,000 in pension benefits so far.
He also has pointed out that state law allows him to draw his pension for over 25 years of state service while still serving in office.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
The Round Rock-based computer giant, Dell Inc., is offering some workers voluntary buyouts as it seeks to trim costs and boost productivity.
The Austin Humane Society reopened to the public Friday after closing its doors for six weeks.
A Lago Vista couple faces child endangerment charges after authorities found their home covered in feces and garbage.
It's the first criminal charge following a yearlong criminal investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Cold temperatures forecast for Saturday morning have prompted Georgetown officials to cancel the parade associated with the annual Christmas Stroll. The Stroll, however, will go on.