Texas Gov. Rick Perry is set to deliver his state of the state address later this morning in Austin. The media is playing up the five issues Gov. Perry has termed “emergency” issues for the current legislative session, as if they’re new or hint at a Perry run for national office. And the media is also playing up the projected budget shortfall, seldom noting that in Texas the budgets cover two years, and that the “shortfall” is based on projections of state agencies spending what they spent over the previous years plus accounting for inflation. That’s not how the budget process works in Texas, though. State agencies have to start from zero and justify what they intend to spend. So the annual shortfall is half what the media reports depict, and depending on how the governor and legislature handle the budget, may not be a shortfall at all.
As to the five issues, those of us who have been in Texas for the past couple of years are very familiar with all of them: the budget, the border, the voter ID bill, the sonogram bill, and eminent domain. The latter three are all hot issues with the Texas GOP grass roots. All of these have been major issues in the state going back a couple of legislative sessions now, with the border having been a hot issue for far longer than that and worsening over the past couple of years. While these initiatives do touch on national issues, they have been strong state issues that the divided legislature failed to deal with in previous years. GOP dominance in the state Senate, plus the super majority in the state House, make this year the year to deal with them. The Republicans have no meaningful Democratic opposition in Texas now, and therefore no excuses for failure. So it’s only reasonable that Perry would highlight them, whether he intends to seek higher office or not.
Gov. Perry’s state of the state will be webcast live, here, at 11 AM central.