Gov. Rick Perry unveils new plan to balance state budget Monday in Houston

April 17, 2012 8:34:08 AM PDT
Tough talk from Governor Rick Perry about how Texas will handle its budget crunch.

Texas has to have a balanced budget. It's in the state constitution. But a trick or two allowed lawmakers to basically put a $4 billion I.O.U. in the last budget payable when lawmakers go back to work in January. Perry says that's dishonest and he wants to put an end to it.

"Going on a spending spree is the worst thing we can do," said Perry.

In a tough to understand budget process, Perry Monday made his stance pretty easy, putting on the white hat in a budget battle over good and evil.

"It's an incredible opportunity to do what's right for Texas," Perry said.

Perry unveiled what he calls the Texas Budget Compact -- no new taxes in 2013, no Rainy Day spending, keep small business tax cuts in place, stop using accounting tricks to balance the budget and limit spending growth.

"People are either going to be for them or they're not; there's not a lot of gray area here," said Perry.

"Where does the governor suggest the money come from? There are no fairies out there," said State Rep. Sylvester Turner.

But as you can imagine, Texas Democrats aren't inspired.

"I think 30 years down the road, we'll be looking at an uneducated work force," said State Rep. Alma Allen.

They argue holding the line on spending growth, taxes and the Rainy Day Fund means even deeper cuts to classrooms in Texas which account for 40 percent of the state budget.

"The governor has been masterful at saying one thing and doing another, hoping the light of his sunshine will not shine on his position," said Rep. Turner.

"The right way to run a budget process, a state government and an economy is the Texas way," Perry said.

The rollout of the compact, which Perry says is not a pledge he's asking anyone to sign, did have the feel of a campaign rally. And while the governor is not up for re-election until 2014, he has said he wants to run and his campaign was involved in planning Monday's event. But supporters say this is far more than politics.

"I think it's about him letting everyone know he's back and he's focused and he has not lost focus on what his agenda is," said State Senator Dan Patrick.

Perry said it's not the right time to offer specific cuts, but to start this conversation. It comes just a few weeks before the Texas primaries on May 29 and Perry says candidates should be judged on what they say about the plan.


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