September 8, 2010
HOUSTON — Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White on Wednesday accused Republican Gov. Rick Perry of hiding from an anticipated $18 billion state budget deficit and promised to provide monthly updates of the state’s financial condition if he’s elected.
“That’s what you would expect from a chief executive,” White said. “That’s what chief executives are doing all throughout this state. I don’t care if you’re a business that employs 20,000 people or 1,000 or 100 people.”
White said good managers have estimates of money coming in and going out and they update forecasts to manage money effectively and define productivity improvements. He said that’s what he did while mayor of Houston for six years.
“That’s different from the approach taken by Rick Perry,” White said.
This latest spat in the gubernatorial race began when Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson asked state Comptroller Susan Combs to provide a revenue update soon for the current and next two-year budget cycle.
Perry said Tuesday it was “bizarre” to ask for a revenue update this early, saying the request seemed politically motivated and that an update would become available “at the appropriate time.”
Watson, a former Austin mayor, said what he found bizarre was Perry’s “reluctance to provide basic information and accountable government.”
“Most businesses and most families wouldn’t consider a current revenue estimate and up-to-date budget information, in the face of a budget crisis, to be bizarre,” Watson said in a statement Wednesday.
White accused Perry of being “silent” on expected revenues and expenditures, of failing to plan ahead, failing to run the state in a businesslike manner and abdicating or delegating his functions as chief executive officer of the state.
“Texas deserves better than that,” White said. “Governor, that’s not bizarre. That’s what you would expect from a well-run organization. That’s what’s done with companies large and small, cities throughout the state.”
Perry’s approach was “not how you run an efficient government,” White said. “It may be his way to run an efficient campaign.”
Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said Wednesday that White “doesn’t have much credibility when talking about budgets.”
“While he was mayor of Houston, he swept all budget problems under the rug for the current mayor to clean up,” Miner said.
He said Perry, like in the months leading up to previous legislative sessions, had started the process of dealing with the budget for this next session.
The state budget shortfall for the next two-year cycle will be the driving force behind almost every decision the Legislature makes when it convenes in January. While state agencies are bracing for cuts, White and Perry both have offered few specifics about how they’ll address the gap except to say they’ll veto any proposed increase in the sales tax, the state’s largest source of revenue.