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The Brief: Jan. 18, 2011

During today's inauguration festivities, expect less pomp and more circumstance.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

During today's inauguration festivities, expect less pomp and more circumstance.

Gov. Rick Perry's four more years start today, and scaled-back inauguration events will begin at 11 a.m., when the governor and lieutenant governor will be sworn in.

But austerity won't just dominate the swearing-in and accompanying festivities. Today, House Appropriations Committee Jim Pitts will also file the first draft of a state budget, which could include thousands of job cuts — and a whole lot more. As Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports today, some worry that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's recent announcement that the state might eliminate 8,000 jobs didn't factor in include thousands of other jobs dependent on state funding.

The grim outlook hasn't fazed Perry, though. The governor, who sat down with the Trib's Ross Ramsey on Monday afternoon, has repeatedly called dire revenue forecasts overblown. He told Ramsey that in his third term, he'd be dealing with the basics, which for him includes balancing the state budget without raising taxes. "Keeping Texas on track is the most important thing that I'm going to do, and that's actually what we talked about during the campaign," Perry said.

The governor, true to form, peppered the discussion of his agenda with criticism of the feds, noting that state battles over immigration — and Arizona-style legislation — will mean little, he said, until the federal government fulfills its responsibilities to secure the border. "Until you do that, having these long and rancorous discussions is kind of a waste of time," he said.

Perry's also found an unlikely friend in Democrat Jerry Brown, the governor of California, whom he called a "thoughtful, wise fellow" and with whom he said he's discussed Medicaid funding. "I had a conversation with Jerry Brown this week," Perry said. "I think Jerry Brown understands that he's got a real budget crisis on his hands … and I've asked him to really look at some ways that we could, in a bipartisan way, go to Washington and say, 'Hey, listen, we need some flexibility in our Medicaid program.'"

CULLED:

  • Meanwhile, the governor's still fighting claims he's interested in anything more than Texas' highest office. On Monday, Perry campaign adviser Dave Carney denied that the the governor's team has quietly begun polling outside of Texas to gauge his chances for a 2012 run.
  • Election Day's still over a year and a half away, but the race to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who recently announced that she wouldn't be seeking re-election, seems to have already kicked into high gear — at least among guys with the last name Williams. On Monday, the same day George H.W. Bush endorsed Roger Williams, the former secretary of state, Michael Williams of the Texas Railroad Commission announced he'll resign this week to focus on campaigning for the seat. (As Paul Burka reports, though, that might not be the only reason for Williams' departure from the commission.)

"Friends, for many reasons I shouldn't directly address your questions about my Senate race intentions. Please be patient. Stay tuned. But get ready!! People get ready!!"Michael Williams, on Twitter

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