"People know there is a land of opportunity. It's called Texas." Governor Perry is the consummate cheerleader for the State of Texas. Speaking about the agreement reached by himself, Speaker Strauss and Appropriation Chairman Pitts, Perry said he is committed to keeping his pledge to not use any Rainy Day Funds for balancing the 2012-2013 state budget. He agreed to use $3.2 billion from the fund to attain a balanced budget, as is mandated, and then he drew the line on any anticipation of doing it again for the next budget. He further stated that he expects to find ways of balancing the next budget without raising taxes.
These thoughts on the Rainy Day Fund are important, according to Perry, because it sends a strong message to those wishing to open businesses in Texas. And, also to those considering a move to Texas. It is important that the message is sent that Texas is a pro-business state due to low taxes, legal system reform and a regulatory system that is fair and predictable.
During the conference call, Governor Perry said the message was sent loud and clear on November 2 that voters expect government to be streamlined and more efficient. He said it is the job of government to keep the economy strong, insure that schools prepare students for a life of success, secure the borders and then get out of the way.
On the current budget woes of school districts, Perry reminded listeners that he warned of the downfall of accepting federal funds - such as money for the Obama program of "Race to the Top" in education - to cover on-going and recurring expenses. He said Texas is not going to raise taxes to cover shortfalls now being experienced for those districts that did. He feels vindicated for turning down the stimulus funds he chose to turn down as they were offered from Washington. He will not use Rainy Day Funds to pad school district budgets, either.
Cuts can be made without teacher lay-offs. In Texas, it is common for school administrations to employ one non-teacher for every one teacher. This is unsustainable in this economic climate. One initiative working to help solve school budget woes is Red Apple Project. The project claims "We can cut spending without firing teachers, shortchange students, or asking hard-working Texans to dig deeper into their pockets."
Governor Perry spoke of on-going efforts to nullify federal overreach into state choices. He spoke of the lawsuit brought by Texas against the Obama administration and EPA which tried to take away the state's clean air permitting process. At the end of 2010, the EPA decided that the process that was implemented during the administration of former Governor Ann Richard in the 1990's and approved by the Clinton administration was no longer acceptable, despite the sound success of the process. Under the process, Texas cleaned up the state's air quality more than any other state during that time. For example, there was a 26% reduction in ozone depletion.
Another push back against overreaching is in joining with 25 other states in challenging Obamacare mandates on states.
Perry believes the best solution is to let states compete against each other. Let people choose where they want to live and what government they want. The future for state growth is tied into pushing back on federal government interference.