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Five Takeaways from Gov. Perry’s State of the State Speech

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Rick Perry said Texas is “stronger than ever.”

In his address to the 83rd Texas Legislature this morning, Gov. Perry outlined priorities for the session: first and foremost is dispensing “at least” $1.8 billion in tax cuts and possible refunds over the next two years.

Perry called on the legislature to provide “the option of returning tax money directly to the people who paid it.” He declined to offer further details other than to say, “Currently, that's not something our constitution allows. We need to fix that.”

Perry also called for a $3.7 billion in water and transportation projects, to be paid from the state’s Rainy Day Fund. He also emphasized changes to public education, including another hot topic the legislative session: expanded charter school funding.

But Perry's speech was also notable for what it didn’t include: no mention was made of abortion-related legislation or women’s health issues. Perry has signaled support for a so-called “fetal pain” bill outlawing abortion after 20 weeks. But abortion was mentioned nowhere in his speech.

Perry has previously used State of the State addresses to declare proposals as “emergency items,” meaning the legislature can act on them within the first 60 days of the session. But none of the topics Perry addressed were named as emergency items either. 

Also, protestors opposed to Perry’s refusal to expand state Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act briefly interrupted the governor at one point. 

Here’s some of Perry’s talking points from his address; you can read his full speech online. And KUT News' StateImpact Texas has more on Perry's call for water funding.

Perry on Tax Cuts:

“In a legislative session where we can see billions of dollars still on the table after we’ve funded our services and met the needs of an ever expanding population, I think providing tax relief of at least $1.8 billion over this biennium is a good place to start.”

Perry on Rainy Day Fund:

“We need to maintain a strong Rainy Day Fund. While we cannot and we will not raid that fund to meet ongoing expenses, we also shouldn’t accumulate billions more than is necessary. That’s why I support a move to utilize $3.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund for a one-time investment in infrastructure programs.”

Perry on Water and Roads:

“What I’m proposing will support critical water and transportation systems across our state. It addresses our needs, both short term and long term. Ensure that both water and traffic will continue to flow in traffic for generations to come. None of us can deny the need for these improvements. Water and roads add to the quality of life for all Texans.”

Perry on Public Education:

“Limiting a child to just one opportunity does nothing more than limit that child’s future. The way forward must involve more public charter schools, which will offer parents a tuition free alternative to their neighborhood schools. Those innovative public schools already serve more than 150,000 students across Texas, with more than 100,000 on their waiting list. “It’s also time to introduce scholarship programs that give students a choice, especially those who are locked into low performing schools.”

Perry’s Shout Out to Obama:

“During his second inaugural address, President Obama called on us all to work together and do our part to secure a brighter future for America. Well, Mr. President, Texas stands ready to do our part.”

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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