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article imageTexas gov. to suspend arts and history programs to balance budget

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 10, 2011 in Politics
Austin - Texas governor Rick Perry delivered his State of the State speech this week and among the highlights he spoke of was the need to suspend the State Historical Commission and the Commission on the Arts in addressing the state’s $27 billion budget deficit.
Speaking to a joint session of the state’s 82nd Legislature, Perry said the time has finally come to streamline the state government:
“If ever there was a time to truly reform our approach to governance and streamline our organization, it is now. Frank discussions about the true purpose of state government, must be followed by a willingness to act on our convictions.”
Among Perry’s targets worthy of budget cuts or eliminations are the arts and history:
“Let's suspend non-mission-critical entities like the Historical Commission or the Commission on the Arts until the economy improves. Let's take an even closer look at the way we deliver essential services, to make sure we're taking the most efficient, cost-effective approach.”
Democrats responded to the governor’s speech with a stark reality that differs substantially from the state’s longest-serving governor. “Governor Perry has been waking up in a different reality than most citizens of Texas,” said Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, according the the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
“Their reality is becoming starker by the day. In the reality of Texas families, schools are closing, teachers are losing their jobs and state support for public eduction, already among the lowest in the entire nation, is facing dramatic cuts,” Davis continued.
Perry’s speech focused heavily on how strong the state’s economy is, despite a reported $27 billion budget shortfall. In his opening remarks, after thanking the Boy Scouts for shaping his character, Perry said:
“As this session gets rolling, some folks are painting a pretty grim picture of our situation, so we need to balance their pessimism with the good news that continues to flow from our comparatively strong economy.”
According to Perry, Texas added more jobs in 2010 than any other state in the nation, making job growth rate in the state almost “double that of any other top ten state.”
That state-wide job growth occurred in the sectors of business, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, construction and “of course, our substantial energy industry,” Perry added in his speech.
Perry gave credit for what he perceives as the state’s strong economy to its citizens, entrepreneurs and, “yes, to the decisions made in this building.”
Apparently tiring of all the positives that might cause complexes for other states, Perry said:
“I could keep listing accolades, but I don't want to give the other states a complex, and we've got a lot of ground to cover this morning. So let me boil it down to these simple truths:, the core elements of our economy are strong, and Texas is still the envy of our nation.”
Perry’s speech was highly critical of national politics, and threatened to use the law in his perception of Washington’s infringement on states rights, saying:
“Where Washington encroaches upon the rights of states, this state will push back with resolve and the full force of the law. In that regard, we are blessed to have a leader with the wisdom and courage of Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is using every resource at his disposal and working with Texas lawmakers to protect the best interests of our state.”
The San Antonio Express News calls Perry’s “cuts-only” approach to the huge deficit “frustrating,” and says the governor is downplaying the severity of the situation.
Perry became governor after George W. Bush left the state for a higher calling in the nation’s capital and has remained governor since, thanks to a decidedly rural Republican base that continues to repeatedly outvote the state’s largely Democratic metro areas.
More about Texas governor, Rick perry, state of the state, Budget deficit, arts programs
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