At more or less the exact same moment, two items of note hit the Unfair Park inbox: a statement from Governor Rick Perry concerning Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' guesstimated billion-dollar bump in state revenues, and a Real Clear Politics piece headlined "Rick Perry Presidential Push Quietly Gains Steam." Let's go ahead and make this a two-fer.
First, to Combs' adding back $1.2 billion to the state's coffers for the next biennium. Long story short, Combs says in a press release of her own, she's putting that billion-plus into her revenue forecast because "my office estimates sales tax, oil production tax and motor vehicle sales tax will bring in more revenue than previously estimated in the next biennium." Which isn't to say all's well. Far from it. "The state's housing market is sluggish, with new home construction levels similar to those seen in the mid-1990s," Combs says in the prepared statement. "We will also monitor different aspects of the economy, including any potential burden on consumers and businesses if oil prices move higher."
To which Perry responds with the following statement of his own:
The revised revenue estimate shows the strength of Texas job creation and economic growth, but it does not mean lawmakers can abandon necessary budget reductions. Just as Texas families and employers have had to tighten their belts during the national recession, so must state government.
Now, then. To Perry's presidential aspirations, which he's long since denied. Erin McPike and Scott Conroy write that Perry's "waiting to be summoned" into the race for the White House, given the lack of known commodities at this late date. Others agree: He's lookin'. Lookin' hard.
According to another well-connected Republican, at least one Perry confidant has been very quietly making inquiries about the political terrain in the nation's first voting state of Iowa. A third Perry associate, RCP has learned, has been heralding a small contingent of Iowans with the time-tested line that is often used by would-be candidates who are leaving their options open: "Keep your powder dry."
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Combs' letter to Perry and the Lege follows.