In his ‘State of the State’ address before the Legislature, Texas Gov. Rick Perry stuck to his very prudent guns by urging passage of a budget balanced by spending cuts, and free from tax increases. “Texas,” he said, “is still the envy of the nation.” A boast-free fact if ever there was one!
Gov. Perry hit the right tone in his State of the State speech by emphasizing what works in keeping a strong economy: low taxes, limited government, predictable regulations and a rational tort environment.
His call to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes, and instead said we must have “frank discussions” about spending is the approach taxpayers expect the legislature to follow. He said that while there are programs many people might like, it is time to fund only what is necessary.
“If ever there was a time to truly reform our approach to governance and streamline our organization, it is now,” Perry said. “Let’s suspend non-mission-critical entities like the Historical Commission or the Commission on the Arts until the economy improves. Let’s take an even closer look at the way we deliver essential services, to make sure we’re taking the most efficient, cost-effective approach.”
It seems nary a day is going by in which a parade of spenders are looking lustfully at the rainy day fund as a way to prop up, and even expand, pet projects and programs.
But the governor was unequivocal in his saying it would be a “bad idea” to use “the savings account to pay for recurring expenses.”
Raising taxes is clearly off the table for the governor, a point he made by noting several states were likely to follow “the Illinois legislature’s recent decision to raise taxes as much as 66 percent… When those states dig deeper into their citizens’ wallets, Texas looks even better by comparison.”
Texas can remain strong if legislators take seriously the governor’s call for significant reforms in spending. Even if legislators aren’t persuaded by the economics of it, they should at least consider the politics.
A poll we recently conducted found 76 percent of voters are more likely to vote for a budget cutter — and 74 percent less likely to vote for a tax raiser. This is a bipartisan call among voters — strong majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike share the view that spending must be cut.
The governor made the point well: “Those families sent a pretty clear message with their November votes. They want government to be even leaner and more efficient, and they want us to balance the budget without raising taxes on families and employers.
I’ll conclude with a couple quotes from his speech:
“In the end, our decisions should always reflect a fundamental truth: we work for the people, not the other way around.”
“Long known for our bountiful natural resources, Texas is now esteemed for its greatest resource, the intellect and character of our people.”
“As other states flounder about, oppressing their citizens with more taxes and driving away jobs with bad policy, Texas will make the right decisions, and emerge stronger.”