| AUSTIN, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas Jan 10 Texas Governor Rick Perry
called on Thursday for tax relief to be a priority for the new
legislative session, not offering specifics but asking citizens
to send him ideas.
"The best thing that we can do for our economy, for
employers, for employees, for our state, and I will suggest to
you, for our country, is to provide some tax relief," the
Republican governor said at a conference organized by the Texas
Public Policy Foundation, which advocates for limited
His comments came on the third day of the 140-day
legislative session, which in Texas takes place every two years.
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.
Perry joined a growing list of Republican governors who are
talking about tax cuts now that the economy has improved from
the 2007-2009 recession and tax revenues are increasing.
When he ran for the Republican nomination for president in
2011-12, Perry was fond of pointing to Texas as a model for the
nation. The energy-rich state has long had no income tax,
stronger economic growth than most other states, and regularly
tops the annual lists of the state corporate chief executives
say has the best environment for doing business.
In 2011, lawmakers facing a budget shortfall, made cuts to
education and health care. Democrats are calling for restoring
those cuts, but Perry has said that he does not believe that
every item in the previous budget should be funded at or above
the level it was two years ago.
When the government leaves money in people's hands, "they
can start new businesses, they can invest in new equipment, they
can hire new employees, they can blaze new trails, they can
innovate," said Perry, who also floated the idea of tax relief
during the first two days of the session. "Time and again we've
seen that the best use of people's money is to give it back to
them in some form or fashion."
Perry reiterated his previous proposal to make permanent an
exemption for small businesses from paying the state business
Chuck DeVore, vice president of communications at the Texas
Public Policy Foundation, said he hopes that the margins tax
will be phased out entirely.
"With all this additional revenue coming in, we'd like to
see the tax eliminated," said DeVore, a former California state
lawmaker who served as vice chairman of a revenue and taxation
panel. "It would serve as a boost to employment and it would
increase the business activity in the state."
He pointed out that the Washington, D.C.-based Tax
Foundation, a non-partisan tax research group, has said that
eliminating the state's business margins tax would bump Texas
from the 9th-best business tax climate to the 5th-best.
"I heard hints in what the governor was saying this morning
that he's kind of going down that path," DeVore said.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst told reporters on
Wednesday that the Senate is "taking a look at how we can reduce
some of the business taxes, maybe things we can do with the
property tax, our homestead exemptions, but this is all, all way
Dick Lavine, a senior fiscal analyst at the Center for
Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income Texans,
said that lawmakers' first goal should be to get back to where
the state was before the recession in areas such as education
and health and human services.
"There are a lot that comes ahead of tax cuts on the list of
things that need to be done," Lavine said in an interview on
Lavine said that the margins tax, for example, is an
important source of support for public services. "It would be
irresponsible to eliminate that source without a replacement,"
Perry said on Thursday he wants people to submit "fresh
ideas" to him online.
"This being the Internet, I'm thinking that some ideas may
be better than others," Perry said.