A “Rick Perry 2016” image popped up on Facebook accompanied by warnings about the state he’s led since late 2000: “Texas ranks: #1 in worker deaths, #1 carbon emissions, #50 in high school graduates, #50 in funding for mental health patients.”
The June 13 post came from the “Everlasting GOP Stoppers,” which also has a political Web page.
We’ve previously explored claims about each of these topics, so we decided to see how this Facebook post fared on the Texas Truth-O-Meter.
• Worker deaths: In May 2013, we rated as Half True a claim that Texas leads the nation in fatal industrial accidents. Drawing on 2011 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found that Texas ranked No. 1 in four types of event or exposure tabbed by Austin advocate Jim Marston as “industrial accident categories” — fires and explosions, falls and slips, exposure to harmful substances, and contact with objects or equipment. California led in deaths caused by violence and other injuries.
Texas and California are also the largest states. Taking the size of the workforce into account, we calculated that Texas ranked 18th in fatalities in those workplace categories, with a rate of 1.7 such deaths per 100,000 workers.
Bureau spokeswoman Cheryl Abbot sent us a similar stat: Texas had a rate of 4 fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2011, tying for 22nd among the states.
• Carbon emissions: “Everlasting GOP Stoppers” pointed us to a May 14 blog post in a trade publication, Environmental Leader, stating: “Texas still led the U.S. states in CO2 emissions from energy with 663 million metric tons in 2010, followed by California and Pennsylvania.” The post, like a May 29 post by the Environmental Defense Fund, attributed the conclusion to figures posted by the federal Energy Information Administration. The post said too, however, that Wyoming had the nation’s greatest per-resident emissions, 118.5 metric tons per capita.
So, Texas topped other states in carbon emissions except when those emissions were adjusted for population. Factoring in population, Texas ranked 13th in CO2 emissions per resident.
• High school graduates: The group pointed to information tracing back to a 2012 report from the Legislative Budget Board. That report cited 2009 census information showing that 79.9 percent of Texans had graduated from high school, placing the state 50th, behind Mississippi and California.
More up-to-date information was available before the group made its post about Perry. In the bureau’s 2011 survey, Texas, Mississippi and California tied for last among the states.
But in terms of schools’ current ability to produce graduates, Texas tied with five states for the third-highest graduation rate in 2011, at 86 percent.
• Mental health spending: The group pointed to news articles and blog posts from 2011 and 2012 indicating Texas ranked 50th in per-resident spending on mental health care. Most drew on an annual analysis by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that Texas ranked last in per-capita mental health spending in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and next to last in 2010.
But in raw dollars, Texas placed ninth nationally, spending nearly $980 million on mental health services.
Our ruling: The group’s Facebook post said: “Texas ranks: #1 in worker deaths, #1 carbon emissions, #50 in high school graduates, #50 in funding for mental health patients.”
We found support for those rankings. But this post also takes things out of context by cherry-picking figures, in each case stressing the result that makes Texas look worst.
We rate this claim as Half True.
Statement: “Texas ranks: #1 in worker deaths, #1 carbon emissions, #50 in high school graduates, #50 in funding for mental health patients.”