Gov. Rick Perry has given six State of the State addresses, outlining his vision for the state and his strategies for each legislative session. Before lunch Tuesday, he’ll deliver the seventh, telling the 83rd Legislature — and the rest of us — what’s on his mind and what he hopes to accomplish along with state lawmakers before the end of the regular session on Memorial Day.
A source familiar with the speech said Perry would advocate spending "several billion from the Rainy Day Fund for a one-time investment in water and infrastructure projects." That mirrors legislative proposals for a $2 billion starter fund for water and unspecified amounts for transportation. The governor will continue to argue that the fund should not be tapped for continuing expenses. But with it projected to hit nearly $12 billion by the end of the next two-year budget, the source said Perry would also make the case that the fund should not be "allowed to accumulate more than necessary."
He will also propose ending diversions from the state highway fund so all of it can be used for transportation. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said recently that money from that fund should all go to transportation projects and that the state should pay for the Department of Public Safety out of other accounts.
The setup for the governor was evident before the session even began. The budget numbers from Comptroller Susan Combs are a vast improvement over the forecast she gave two years ago, and the one two years before that. The partisan makeup of the Legislature — set by voters in last year’s elections — is close to what it was two years ago: Republicans are firmly in control in both chambers and in all of the statewide offices. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care reform laws, the Affordable Care Act, and now the state and federal governments are trying to figure out just how that will work.
The 2014 elections are already a subject of conversation in the Capitol, and will play into strategy and tactics of the governor and many others on the political food chain between now and candidate filing deadlines a little less than a year away.
The state economy is strong and recovering, but challenges remain in infrastructure, public and higher education, health care and immigration. And then there are the collected legislative promises made by the 181 members of the Senate and the House during their recent election campaigns.
For openers, we’ve assembled previous reporting on Perry’s biennial messages to the Legislature.
• In his previous speeches, the governor has proposed to sell a government-run lottery to finance a health insurance program. He wanted to deregulate college tuition, and then freeze it. He proposed leaving the state's Rainy Day Fund alone — or sending all of that money back to taxpayers. He wanted to cap increases in local property taxes, to spend tax money on companies moving to Texas, and to increase the number of kids in the Children's Health Insurance Program.
• When Perry delivered his sixth State of the State speech, we wondered whether his emphasis on certain words or subjects had changed in the 10 years he has delivered the biennial speeches. A visual look at Perry’s words.
And here are links to the text of the previous six speeches: