Perry Calls for Fiscal Discipline in State Spending - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Perry Calls for Fiscal Discipline in State Spending



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    Gov. Rick Perry issued proposals Wednesday that would make it difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes and would limit the amount state spending could grow.

    Gov. Rick Perry took another swipe at Washington and big government, issuing proposals Wednesday that would make it difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes and would limit the amount state spending could grow.

    He proposed constitutional amendments Wednesday that would require a supermajority of the Legislature to raise taxes and to cap the growth of state spending at a level tied to inflation and population growth.

    Perry said his proposals would solidify the "state's commitment to fiscal discipline."

    He said it's more important than ever to exert fiscal discipline as Washington expands programs that "pile up debt on future generations."

    The remark was a thinly veiled attack on Perry's primary opponent, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who Perry has chided as a Washington insider.

    "When government resorts to endlessly expanding its program or throttling economic growth by raising taxes, everyday citizens are the ones that pay that price," Perry told about 40 people at a small business in Lubbock. "As that particular mindset holds sway over Washington, D.C., today I think it is more important than ever to take clear steps to protect our citizens from the excesses of unrestrained government at every level."

    Hutchison's campaign criticized Perry for "recycling a budget reform proposal" first made in 2006, which Perry didn't implement or pursue.

    "Texans are tired of politicians like Rick Perry who say one thing in an election year but then increases spending, doubles the state debt and expands the size of government," Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder said. "If Rick Perry failed to fulfill his campaign promise in 2006, how can he expect Texans to trust him in 2010 when he makes the exact same promise?"

    The first amendment Perry proposed Wednesday would require a two-thirds vote of the Texas Legislature to raise any taxes.

    "This sets a nice high hurdle for lawmakers who might be inclined to raise taxes, and require broader support for decisions of this magnitude," he said.

    The second would require legislators to not spend more than the combined growth rate of inflation plus the rate of population increase in Texas.

    "These sensible amendments will essentially ... (express) our commitment to taxpayer protections in the clearest terms," he said.

    Hutchison's campaign said Texans should consider Perry's acceptance of federal stimulus money.

    "Voters will be shocked to hear Rick Perry talking about fiscal responsibility when he balanced the budget with $12.1 billion of Obama stimulus money, leaving a structural deficit for the Legislature and the next governor to clean up," said Hutchison spokeswoman Jennifer Baker.

    Perry also proposed establishing a state inspector general's office to investigate allegations of fraud and abuse in Texas' governmental agencies. A similar post at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, created by legislators in 2003, has recovered or saved $4.6 billion, he said.

    Perry was scheduled to stop in Midland later Wednesday.

    Associated Press Writer April Castro contributed to this story from Austin.