WASHINGTON - Texas Gov. Rick Perry has begun drawing retirement income from the state since January at a pace that amounts to almost $100,000 a year.His move to officially retire early this year while remaining governor - which his staff says is perfectly legal and consistent with state retirement rules - was unknown to the public until new financial disclosure forms were released Friday.Perry makes $150,000 in gross annual salary as governor. The surprise revelation on the Federal Election Commission report was that he also receives a monthly annuity from the state of $7,698."As part of his standard financial planning, on January 31, 2011 Governor Perry began to receive a Texas state employee retirement annuity of $7,698 per month before taxes ($6,588 net)," said Ray Sullivan, Perry's campaign communications director."The annuity is consistent with Texas state law and Employee Retirement System rules." Perry has not "retired," but is drawing his pension.Perry, at a campaign stop in Cherokee, Iowa, on Friday, defending his decision to take the pension, according to The New York Times."Thats a program that's been in place for decades as far as I know," he said at a coffee shop. "I would be surprised why someone would not take a retirement they were eligible for. Thats just kind of good estate planning in my opinion."Perry, 61, has a long record of service with the state, winning election as a state House member, state agriculture secretary and lieutenant governor before becoming governor in 2000.Perry and wife Anita have considerable assets, but he isn't anywhere near former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's multi-millionaire league.In keeping with his man-of-the-people image, Perry holds a small amount of stock in Walmart, which Friday afternoon was trading at $58.22 a share.The lifelong public servant has accumulated over $1 million in assets, using the lower end of the valuations on the Federal Election Commission form, that are in money funds and a trust account. In his Texas disclosure forms during his nearly 11 years as governor, Perry reported substantial gains from lucrative real estate deals.His wife Anita earns $65,000 a year fundraising for a non-profit, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.Perry's largest holdings are a management trust worth between $500,000 and $1 million that pays him between $15,000 and $50,000 in interest and dividends and a money market fund also worth between $500,000 and $1 million that also earns between $15,000 and $50,000 in interest.For real estate, Perry lists only a one-third interest in the family ranch in Haskell, valued at between $50,000 and $100,000.Perry revoked a blind trust in August - when he announced he was running for president - valued at between $5,000 and $15,000."Gov. Perry's long-standing state blind trust did not qualify as a federal blind trust," Sullivan said. "Therefore, the state blind trust was terminated in August as Gov. Perry announced his candidacy for President of the United States. "Our team has consulted with the Office of Government Ethics and are fully compliant with state and federal laws and disclosure rules."On his liabilities, Perry only lists a student loan for $100,000 and $250,000 and another one that was paid off in July - but does not give the amount.Sullivan said the outstanding loan was for son Griffin, who graduated from Vanderbilt University. The other loan was for daughter Sydney, who attended Texas A&M.Perry has a diverse portfolio. He holds less than 100 shares of stock in some companies: Coca-Cola, FedEx, Illinois Tool Works, Nordson Corp., United Parcel Service, valued at less than $5,000 each.He has from 100 to 499 shares in other companies, including Walmart, Canon, Cisco, Donaldson Inc., Dover Corp. Ecolab Inc., Emerson Electric Co., and Sysco Corp. and Hewlett-Packard and Intel Corp. and Johnson and Johnson.Perry has between 500 and 999 shares in such companies as energy giant Conoco Phillips, General Electric and Microsoft.He has a life insurance policy valued at between $100,000 and $250,000.Maria Recio is the Star-Telegram's Washington bureau chief, 202-383-6103.