The Brief: Top Texas News for April 16, 2013

Gov. Rick Perry in the House chamber on May 19, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry in the House chamber on May 19, 2011.

The Big Conversation

With the legislative clock starting to tick, Gov. Rick Perry on Monday tasked state lawmakers with business tax relief.

At a press conference, Perry called for $1.6 billion in business tax cuts as part of a proposal that would trim the state's business franchise tax rate by 5 percent and permanently instate a $1 million deduction for businesses that earn up to $20 million, as the Tribune's Aman Batheja reported.

Perry said tax relief was needed to keep Texas ahead of the rest of the country in job creation. States like Kansas, Nebraska and Louisiana have recently considered eliminating their income tax or lowering their business tax burden. 

"The idea that we can just sit here and think we can stay at the top of the heap is just not correct," Perry said Monday.

Though the plan earned the praise of conservative groups like the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Democrats weren't impressed.

"I don't take it as a serious proposal. I think it is maybe representative of an attempt to score some political points," state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, told the San Antonio Express-News. "But I would say it is part of an ongoing pattern of harming our state's ability to cover our basic necessities like educating our children and investing in infrastructure."

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said the governor would need to "get in line" behind lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — already trying to find funding this session for water and transportation projects.

"There are a number of other priorities with very, very expensive price tags that have yet to be addressed," Martinez Fischer said. "We are now getting to the final days of making these types of decisions."

Though Perry didn't specify how lawmakers should try to fund the tax cut proposals, his chief of staff suggested they could either tap the general revenue fund or the Rainy Day Fund. 

Culled

•    Immigration Overhaul Proposal Is Likely to Ignite Fierce Debate (The New York Times): "The introduction of sweeping immigration legislation on Tuesday is likely to ignite a months-long battle between those who want citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and opponents who view such an approach as amnesty. … The group plans to file the legislation on Tuesday, but canceled its scheduled news conference because of the Boston Marathon bombing."

•    Abortion clinic bill stalled in Senate (San Antonio Express-News): "Texas Republicans are one vote short of passing a controversial abortion bill in the Senate — and the fate of the legislation now rests squarely on the shoulders of two South Texas Democrats. Sens. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, and Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, oppose the bill, and without their votes it won't have the supermajority needed under Senate rules to get to a floor vote."

•    In Waco, Abbott sounds alarm on U.N. arms treaty, Democratic group (Waco Tribune-Herald): "Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a Waco audience Monday he would sue the Obama administration to protect individual gun rights if the U.S. joins a United Nations global arms treaty. Abbott also said a group working to make Democrats more competitive in Texas represented a 'far more dangerous' threat than anything uttered by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un."

•    Time to drink the Gulf? (San Antonio Express-News): "The feasibility of building a natural-gas-powered desalination plant to turn Texas Gulf Coast seawater into drinking water will be studied by the General Land Office and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, the agencies announced Monday. The study will focus on a desalination facility, which could treat between 25 million and 50 million gallons a day, that would be built in conjunction with a 500-megawatt natural-gas-fired power plant."

Quote of the Day: "With rising taxes and government interference on the upswing, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse." — Rick Perry in a new ad campaign trying to lure businesses from Illinois to Texas

Must-Read

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