The Big Conversation:
Receding from the national spotlight, Gov. Rick Perry today will make his first foray back into state policy.
In Houston at noon, Perry will unveil his so-called Texas Budget Compact, a pledge to cut spending, oppose any new taxes or tax increases and strictly limit how much government can expand in the future, as the Tribune's Jay Root reports.
“These principles represent a vow to the people of Texas, a pledge that each and every member of our Legislature, or anyone aspiring to become a member of our Legislature should sign on to,” Perry will say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks.
The compact will also call for an end to accounting tricks to balance the state budget, the preservation of the state's Rainy Day Fund and the elimination of government agencies.
The Tribune's Ross Ramsey reported over the weekend that the governor wanted to circulate the pledge in time for the state's May 29 primary.
"I think we're at a unique time that we can reset the budgeting game in Texas," Perry said. "We could have well over half the House with one term or less, and maybe five new senators who are considerably more conservative. I've looked at the landscape. I'm going to be the senior statesman, so to speak. This is the time."
State Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston, the leader of the House Democrats, slammed the pledge.
"His proposal promotes more fiscal irresponsibility in asking lawmakers to blindly sign a blood oath that will result in a doubling down of the devastating cuts already made to public schools, colleges and universities," Farrar said. "Instead of planning for a better future, this plan ensures higher public costs through an uneducated workforce and treatment of chronic illnesses that could've been stemmed through preventative health care."
- The four major Republican candidates for U.S. Senate squared off Friday night in a debate that touched on health care, immigration and government spending, among other issues — including the now-infamous text message commotion that erupted last week between Ted Cruz and Craig James. But while front-runner David Dewhurst spent the night fending off attacks from his competitors, analysts say Cruz — who took virtually every opportunity to hit Dewhurst — may have gained little ground. Cruz "did come across as arrogant and abrasive,” Southern Methodist University professor Carolyn Barta told The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t think he distinguished himself.”
- The Texas Medical Board on Friday approved controversial new adult stem cell therapy rules that have raised concerns over the possibility that Texans could receive therapies that have not yet been proven safe or effective. The new guidelines allow for adult stem cell procedures — the success of which medical professionals say is anecdotal — as long as they are performed for research purposes and receive approval from an institutional review board. The approval process was spurred by Rick Perry, who was injected with his own stem cells in July and later that month sent a letter to the Medical Board chairman noting the "revolutionary potential that adult stem cell research and therapies have on our nation’s health, quality of life and economy."
- In its May issue, Texas Monthly tells the story behind the undoing of Dan Rather that followed the 2004 broadcast of a charged report on George W. Bush's Air National Guard Service. New details in Joe Hagan's piece reveal, as Hagan writes, "a bizarre account that has remained, until now, the great untold story of modern Texas politics."
- U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz leads the nation in support from independent expenditure committees, the Houston Chronicle reports. Federal Election Commission records show that independent expenditure committees — which include Super PACs — have spent $1,688,649.63 in support of Cruz, who has won the endorsement of Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks, which has spent $95,191.25 on him.
"I'm going to be the senior statesman, so to speak. This is the time." — Rick Perry on unveiling his new budget compact in advance of the 2013 legislative session
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