Texas Matters: Gov. Rick Perry uses the State-of-the-State address to propose giving tax breaks, but should the state use the extra money to restore education funding instead? A new poll shows that a majority of Texans disapprove of the job he is doing and 62 percent think he should not run for re-election. Since he is a primary torch-bearer for the conservatives in the state, what will he do next?
From Shelley Kofler - KERA
For the seventh time governor Rick Perry stood in front of the joint Texas legislative bodies and delivered the state of the state address. It’s Perry’s time to stand tall in his boots and explain his vision for the lawmakers, and look presidential for potential future voters.
In the State-of-the-State, Perry called for tax cuts, education reform and spending the rainy day fund on water and transportation projects; he steered clear of big controversial issues like completely eliminating abortion and drug testing people who receive state family assistance and unemployment.
In the past, Perry used these addresses to declare proposals as "emergency items," meaning fast-tracking bills and allowing the legislature to act on them within the first 60 days of the session, but none of the topics Perry addressed in this speech were named as emergency items.
Two SMU political science professors disagree on whether Governor Rick Perry’s call for a tax cut will sail through the legislature. Professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson watched the governor’s state-of-the state speech and then discussed what impressed them.
It doesn't look like education funding will be restored
Governor Perry said some interesting things about higher education in the State-of-the-State address. This portion was mostly focused on keeping tuition costs down and making a Rio Grande Valley UT satellite campus a recipient of the Permanent University Fund, but he didn’t say anything about restoring the budget cuts to the public education budget.
$5.4 Billion was cut during the last legislative session because of a budget shortfall and Bob Sanborn of the non-profit Children at Risk says those spending cuts are hurting Texas classrooms.
"I don't really hear a lot of people clamoring for a tax rebate or a tax cut, but increasingly we are hearing from a lot of parents that they are upset about class size or about the elimination of pre-K programs," Sanborn said.
- Find out more about this organization online at: childrenatrisk.org
"I think as we looked across the State of Texas there was some waste in terms of how school districts were managed. Of course, as districts decided to do energy audits and transportation audits, they found a lot of ways to save money. So we saw a lot of efficiencies develop during this budget crises for school districts. People found ways to do more with less, but I think what we also found was there was this breaking point... a lot of school districts, even the best-run school districts, we saw that teacher's jobs were left unfilled and we saw that class sizes got bigger."
What will Perry do next?
Governor Perry’s speech is being picked apart for what it might tell us about his future political plans. Will he or won’t he run for re-election and/or run again for president. To help tease out the possible future is Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, an online newsletter dedicated to Texas Politics.
- Read more about Texas politics at: www.quorumreport.com
"It sounded like -- to me -- it was a victory lap speech and it was positioning him as an elder statesman and the wiseman of Texas politics. This does not presume that he will not run for re-election or run for president, but it certainly is a tone change from what we've come to expect over previous speeches. To me it sounded like it was calming the waters rather than boiling them."
If he does run for governor or president, will he win?
Gov. Rick Perry’s polling numbers don’t look as good as he might like, at least the latest poll numbers generated by Public Policy Polling. One of the groups latest polls asked what Texans thought about some of the state’s big name politicians and political attitudes.
PPP surveyed 500 Texas voters as well as 400 usual Republican primary voters from Jan. 24 to 27. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/-4.4% overall. The polling was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.
Tom Jensen is with Public Policy Polling: www.publicpolicypolling.com
"Most Texas voters are ready for Rick Perry to move on. We found that only 31 percent of voters think he should run for re-election next year, 62 percent think it's time for him to step aside. And that's just a reflection of his approval numbers, which have been low ever since his failed presidential bid and continue to be low; only 41 percent of voters approve of him 54 percent disapprove. We've polled on most governors in the country and Rick Perry is one of the most unpopular governors in the country."