Why is the U.S. tax system so complex?
Happy belated Tax Freedom Day 2012

Is Texas Gov. Rick Perry trying to be the state version of Grover Norquist?

My home state's governor officially exited the 2012 Republican presidential campaign months ago, but it's obvious he's still thinking about a larger political stage.

Rick Perry has posted the Texas Budget Compact on both the official governor's website, as well as on his campaign page. The five-point policy wish list calls for, in part, no new taxes or tax increases in the Lone Star State.

Speaking at a transportation company warehouse in Houston earlier this week, Perry said his budget guidelines would "lead to a stronger Texas" and that "each and every member of the Legislature or anyone aspiring to become a member of the Legislature should sign on."

Is there an echo down here? Perry's proposal sure sounds like the no-tax pledge created by Americans for Tax Reform head honcho Grover Norquist.

Legislators' reactions: Some folks speculated that the governor spent a bit too much time on the campaign hustings, thereby missing out on some of the problems that the latest budget cuts have caused.

Texas' current budget allocated about $4 billion less to public schools than they would have received under previous funding formulas. It also cut approximately $1.4 billion in public education discretionary grants and failed to fully cover the state's Medicaid obligation.

"Gov. Perry loves to talk about his principles in the abstract, but he doesn't want to discuss the disabled kids who lose health services when he won't close corporate tax loopholes, or the students crowded into full classrooms when he won't touch the Rainy Day Fund," said State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio), who serves on the Texas House Appropriations Committee.

Even some of Perry's fellow Texas Republicans are not too keen on the compact.

State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) said he will not sign Perry's compact because, as a practice, he does not sign pledges. "Generally, they [my constituents] are very much for smaller government, not for increased taxation, and that's the way I've voted," Fraser said. "I don't need to sign a pledge to do that. I have a voting record of doing that."

House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) also has said that he does not sign pledges.

The governor's office reportedly is not keeping a list of lawmakers who sign the pledge. Right. He's the rare politician who doesn't keep score.

Worth 1,000 words: A couple of quick comments on the Perry campaign website image.

Rick perry website US flag not Texas flag

First, It says Perry/Governor. And the next Texas gubernatorial election is November 2014, two years before Americans vote again for a president.

But it sure looks like Perry is still thinking beyond Texas boundaries. He's holding high a U.S. flag, not the Texas version of red, white and blue.

And about that U.S. flag. Perry's folks might want to Photoshop the Stars and Stripes. It's blowing to the left.

Yeah, I know, you can argue that the state's political winds from the right are pushing it that direction.

But when every tiny thing gets parsed for meaning, some of Perry's hardcore supporters might not like seeing him associated with anything that's leaning the least bit leftward.

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