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Texas tax payments may be refunded under Perry-backed plan

Republican Gov. Rick Perry wants to amend Texas’s constitution to allow taxes to be refunded to residents should money go unspent by the government.

In a speech yesterday to the Texas legislature, Perry, 62, a former presidential candidate, also called for $1.8 billion in tax cuts over two years. The state estimates it will have an $8.8 billion budget surplus.

“When we do bring in more than we need, we’ll have the option of returning tax money directly to the people who paid it,” Perry said. “Currently, that’s not something our constitution allows. We need to fix that.”

Perry is joining other governors seeking tax reductions. At least eight governors, including Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, said this month they want to cut or eliminate personal or corporate income taxes. Texas doesn’t have a personal income tax.

A constitutional change in Texas requires two-thirds support of the House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, and it then must win approval from a majority of voters.

Perry’s constitutional proposal is a “political stunt,” state Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, said in an interview. The amendment won’t get
support from Democrats, he said.

Texas lawmakers will have $101.4 billion in general revenue over the next two years, Comptroller Susan Combs said Jan. 7. Early budgets proposed by Senate and House leaders call for spending about $89
billion.

That comes in addition to more than $6 billion to pay education and health insurance bills deferred from the current fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

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