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In Pitching Tax Relief, Perry Points Finger at Washington

In a speech calling for tax cuts in the new legislative session, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday bashed the federal government for its "irresponsible" spending decisions and praised Texas' fiscal restraint.

Gov. Rick Perry speaks with a reporter on Feb. 21, 2012, a month after dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Gov. Rick Perry again turned to bashing the federal government Thursday during the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s policy orientation conference, calling out national leaders for their “irresponsible” spending decisions, while making his own sales pitch for a tax relief plan.

Speaking to an audience of around 200 attendees that included legislators and staffers, Perry touted the contrast between national leaders and Texas. While bragging about Texas' fiscal health, he said Washington, D.C., "is creating more pressures economically on this country, whether it’s by forcing their health care law into the states ... whether it’s their refusal to stop spending money and raising taxes." 

Following deep budget cuts in the last session and a boost in oil revenues, the Texas Legislature will work with an estimated $8.8 billion surplus for the next two years. 

Perry supports new tax cuts to Texans, a platform he pitched Tuesday during his addresses to both the Senate and the House on the session's opening day. At the time, Perry did not criticize the federal government and its recent fiscal cliff deal, but he unleashed his distaste during his speech Thursday at the conservative think tank's event. 

“When you see Washington doing what they’re about, and Texas giving tax relief,” he said. “You want to segregate yourself out and say, ‘We’re different.’”

Perry’s comparisons did not stop with the federal government. Other state governors are just as jealous, he said, even if they do not admit it. “I’m thinking Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo wouldn’t want to admit that he wanted to be a Texan,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience. “But if he would be truthful, he would say that the economic climate that has allowed [Texas] to grow and create jobs, he’d dearly love to say, ‘We did this in New York,’ but he can’t.”

The governor briefly discussed his support for higher-education reforms. But his endorsements were rooted in economics, explaining that legislators needed to address reforms that "place a greater emphasis on affordability and graduation rate,” to reassure employers that Texas was producing an educated workforce.

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State government Budget Governor's Office Rick Perry Texas Legislature