Gov. Rick Perry boasted about the strength of the Texas economy and downplayed the $27 billion Texas budget deficit during his State of the State speech Tuesday.
Perry won re-election last year by touting the strength and health of the conservative Texas economy, a familiar strategy he has consistently repeated since taking office in late 2000.
"The mainstream media and big-government interest groups are doing their best to convince us that we're facing a budget Armageddon," Perry said in the speech in the House chamber to representatives and senators. "Texans don't believe it, and they shouldn't.".But, away from the television cameras and microphones, Perry's office released a budget plan (PDF) that largely resembles those put forward by the state House and Senate in recent weeks.
Those plans cut $31 billion in spending from the Texas budget, which will cause layoffs for tens of thousands of teachers, close of community colleges, eliminate tuition support for 60,000 college students, close correctional facilities and lay off correctional officers and a drastically reduce state services for the poor, elderly and young and those with mental health problems.
In 2010 the state created only 230,800 new jobs to replace the 359,000 jobs lost in 2009. The Texas Workforce Commission reports the unemployment rate in Texas was 8.3 percent in December, up from 8.2 percent in November. Layoffs caused by the $31 billion cut in state spending will continue to deepen Texas' unemployment rate, which is already at 22-year highs. The state layoffs will also cause even more Texas families to lose health insurance coverage and Texas already leads the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance. The state ranks last in the country in percentage of adults with a high school diploma and the cuts to education will lead to ever more students dropping out of school.
The governor also called on state lawmakers to quickly approve a list of "emergency" proposals. These include implementing stricter voter identification requirements, requiring women seeking an abortion to first view a sonogram, targeting cities that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, strengthening the rights of property owners in cases of eminent domain and calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Perry's bottom line assessment of the state of the state is that it's all good.
Gov. Rick Perry State of the State Speech