In his first major policy initiative since leaving the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Rick Perry will call on his fellow Texas politicians Monday to sign on to a pledge to cut spending, hold the line on taxes and adopt strict limits on how much government can expand in the future.
“We are approaching a 2013 legislative session that offers a very clear choice in the direction we’ll be going as a state in the years, and even decades to come,” Perry will say, according to remarks prepared for delivery.
The governor says the pledge would help “lead to a stronger Texas.”
“These principles represent a vow to the people of Texas, a pledge that each and every member of our Legislature, or anyone aspiring to become a member of our Legislature should sign on to,” he plans to say, according to excerpts of the prepared remarks.
The compact will call for “truth in budgeting,” another way of saying Perry wants to end the common practice of using accounting tricks — like delayed payments and sped-up tax collections — to balance the state budget.
He also wants legislators and would-be legislators to “oppose any and all new taxes or tax increases, preserve the Rainy Day Fund, and cut wasteful and redundant government programs and agencies.”
If Texas leaders commit to govern and budget by these principles, "we will ensure continued growth and prosperity, an honest budget and promote a more limited government,” the governor will say.
Perry told the Tribune last week that he wanted to circulate the pledge before the May 29 primary so candidates could discuss the initiative before voters go to the polls.
"I think we're at a unique time that we can reset the budgeting game in Texas," Perry said. "We could have well over half the House with one term or less, and maybe five new senators who are considerably more conservative. I've looked at the landscape. I'm going to be the senior statesman, so to speak. This is the time."
The initiative puts Perry back into the state's political arena after his bid for the GOP presidential nomination came to an inglorious end in South Carolina on Jan. 19.
It's too soon to gauge the interest in the pledge among Republican candidates for the Legislature, but Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston, the leader of the House Democrats, blasted the idea.
"His proposal promotes more fiscal irresponsibility in asking lawmakers to blindly sign a blood oath that will result in a doubling down of the devastating cuts already made to public schools, colleges and universities," Farrar said. "Instead of planning for a better future, this plan ensures higher public costs through an uneducated workforce and treatment of chronic illnesses that could've been stemmed through preventative health care."
Ross Ramsey contributed to this report.