AUSTIN (January 9, 2013)--Gov. Rick Perry is making no promises that Texas lawmakers will roll back any of the deep state spending cuts imposed during past economic downswings, not even $5.4 billion sliced from public school funding.
The governor says the state has no obligation to restore funding levels reduced in 2011, even as a stronger economy has given the state Legislature more money to work with as it reconvenes this week.
Perry had breakfast Wednesday with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus and all three spoke of unity, promising to make cutting taxes a priority, but Dewhurst then broke ranks somewhat and promised that more funding would go to public education.
Straus has already promised to increase funding to schools enough to cover enrollment growth, requiring an extra $2 billion.
Perry said Wednesday it's too early in the new session to pinpoint how the Texas Legislature might find tax relief and Dewhurst also declined to mention specifics, but said everything from the business tax to property taxes was on the table.
The state's top Republicans defend the timing of tax-cut talk by pointing to a healthy state revenue forecast announced this week.
Unlike the $27 billion shortfall the Legislature faced in 2011, a resurgent Texas economy has left $8.8 billion in unspent revenue in the current budget cycle.
Most of that money, however, is likely needed to pay a nearly $5 billion Medicaid tab.