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The Brief: April 17, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday turned his attention back to policy. But politics soon followed.

Gov. Rick Perry in his Capitol office on Feb. 21, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday turned his attention back to policy. But politics soon followed.

Perry on Monday unveiled his so-called Texas Budget Compact, a pledge to cut spending, oppose any new taxes or tax increases and strictly limit the future expansion of government, as the Tribune's Jay Root reported from Houston.

The compact, which Perry urged state politicians to sign on to, also called 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.

Democrats promptly slammed the proposal. “Real Texans don’t hurt seniors and children,” said state party chairman Boyd Richie. “Perry is calling on his fellow Republicans to commit to permanently underfunding public education and human services. He’s leading Texas into a race for the bottom that jeopardizes the future of both our children and our parents.”

Perry told reporters that he wouldn't be keeping track of who signs the pledge or doesn't. But that didn't stop speculation over who might or might not from cropping up. Matt Beebe, House Speaker Joe Straus' Republican primary challenger, said in a statement that he was "excited to see Governor Perry encouraging legislators to get serious about budget discipline" and that he would sign the pledge if asked.

Texans for Joe Straus said in a statement that the speaker supports the principles of the compact and praised Straus for "leading the House to balanced, no-new taxes budgets, preserving a strong Rainy Day fund and being one of the only legislators ever to lead efforts to abolish a tax once it had served its purpose." But the statement said Straus, per his own policy, doesn't sign on to pledges.

Culled:

  • Having vowed to press on with his presidential campaign despite long odds, Newt Gingrich campaigned in North Texas on Monday, urging supporters to vote for him in the state's May 29 primary, The Dallas Morning News reports. U.S. Reps. Joe Barton of Ennis and Michael Burgess of Flower Mound, who have said they'll continue to support Gingrich as long as he remains in the race, joined the former U.S. House speaker at a restaurant in Richardson, where he said when asked whether he should withdraw from the race that "having a voice for conservatism is healthy for the Republican Party and helpful to America."
  • As the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reported, President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes' re-election bid, adding to the El Paso Democrat's list of supporters, which already included former President Bill Clinton. Beto O'Rourke, Reyes' Democratic challenger, said the endorsement wouldn't slow his effort to unseat the congressman. “I don’t think [the endorsement] is going to be able to overcome the concerns about Silvestre Reyes’ ties to corruption here in El Paso and that 95 percent of the members of Congress show up to vote more often than he does,” said O'Rourke, who now leads Reyes in fundraising, according to the El Paso Times.
  • As the State Board of Education prepares to debate new math standards for Texas public schools on Wednesday, it has come under heavy fire from Texas business community leaders, who say the standards aren't rigorous enough, reports the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton. Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, said the standards are “far from in line with Texas’ goal of raising educational standards.” Another expert, Ze’ev Wurman, an adviser in the Department of Education under President George W. Bush, called the standards "a wordy, sometimes incoherent and often garbled document."

“People are either going to be for them or they’re not. There’s not a lot of gray area."Rick Perry on the budget compact he unveiled Monday

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