Texas governor calls for giving excess tax money back to people
AUSTIN, Texas Jan 29 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry on Tuesday called for sending excess tax money back to taxpayers and tapping the state's rainy-day fund for water and transportation infrastructure.
Perry, 62, the longest serving governor in the nation at just over 12 years, touted Texas' success creating jobs and luring companies to the state.
He called for changing the constitution of the nation's second most populous state to allow tax money to be returned to the people who paid it when the state brings in more than needed.
"We've never bought into the notion that if you collect more, you need to spend more," Perry said in a speech, which he delivered in the state House chamber to a joint session of the House and Senate.
He also suggested providing at least $1.8 billion in "tax relief," though he did not offer details.
Perry has urged lawmakers to resist pressure to spend money freely despite a state forecast of a 12.4 percent rise in revenue available for the 2014-2015 budget compared to the previous two-year budget.
In 2011, lawmakers, facing a budget shortfall, made cuts to education and health care. Democrats are calling for restoring those cuts.
Perry on Tuesday reiterated his stance that Texas will neither expand the federal-state Medicaid program health program for the poor, nor create a health insurance exchange, two key parts of President Barack Obama's signature health law.
"Texas will not drive millions more into an unsustainable system, a system that will drive this state into bankruptcy," Perry said. "And we have not changed and will not change our position on that one iota."
Perry did not mention abortion in the speech. The governor, who opposes abortion, has said that he supports banning late-term abortions, a proposal based on controversial medical research suggesting that a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation.
Perry, who a year ago dropped out of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has said that he will wait until after the legislative session is over at the end of May to announce whether he will seek re-election as governor or try again for a presidential run.
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