Perry favors tax cuts over restoring budget cuts
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There's a fight brewing at the Texas Capitol over your taxes, a fight to keep them from going up again.
It's one of the main issues lawmakers are facing now that the state legislature is back in session. More money is already being taken out of your paycheck at the federal level, with the payroll tax going back up 2 percent. Now, there's a push to control spending at the state level.
Usually talk out of Austin is about what to spend money on or what to cut money from. But this time, Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to give you money back, saying that's the way to grow the state.
Gov. Perry thinks you pay too much of what you make to the state of Texas.
"While Washington is flailing away, a place in America actually reduced the cost of business. That is a powerful message across this country," Perry said.
We have no state income tax here, and national rankings show Texans pay less state tax than all but five states. Texas lawmakers, though, may have more in the bank than they need to pay all the bills, so Perry says giving it back to Texans instead of restoring two-year-old budget cuts makes more sense to him.
"This is about putting into place what we know works," Perry said.
Perry wants to hear your ideas on how to do it. He doesn't have his own proposal yet and isn't sure when he will have one.
Two years ago, lawmakers made billions in cuts to state programs just to balance the budget, most notably $5.5 billion to education. Since then, hundreds of public school districts sued the state for money, a still-pending case Perry likened to blackmail.
"Going to the courthouse and saying 'I didn't get my way, so I'm going to go sue you' I don't think is good public policy," Perry said.
Perry admits the state has needs in...
"Transportation, infrastructure. We got challenges in power, we got challenges in water. We need to make sure we continue to make education affordable and effective," he said.
But Perry wouldn't commit to more funding for those today and wouldn't even rule out further cuts to state programs.
"How will you know when we get to that point?" we asked.
"When people will move away from the state," he replied.
"That's your cue?" we asked.
"Well, what other cue will there be?" said Perry.
Don't expect the tax relief plan to be easy sailing in Austin. Even some Republicans suggested it was too soon to say there's too much money.
Speaking on a lighter note, Governor Perry told Eyewitness News he is a few months away from being a first-time grandfather.
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