National Issues

Gov. Perry tells veterans in Hewitt that state will spend funds to reduce backlog in benfits claims

November 24, 2009
Waco Tribune-Herald
Regina Dennis
Gov. Rick Perry said the state will fund a new initiative into 2011 to reduce a statewide backlog of more than 38,000 pending veterans benefits claims. Perry earlier this month authorized the Texas Veterans Commission, a state veterans’ advocacy agency, to develop a Claims Processing Assistance Team that will help expedite the backlog. The team will include 12 new veterans counselors who will be split between the Veterans Affairs Regional Processing Centers in Waco and Houston. Speaking to about a dozen local veterans at the Hewitt Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Monday, Perry said the state is allocating $393,000 that will fund the positions through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. “Entirely too many of our veterans waiting on a response from the VA hear, ‘Just keep waiting,’ ” Perry said. “Considering the risks they took in fighting for our freedoms, our veterans deserve better.” Of the claims awaiting processing statewide, about 20,000 are in Houston and about 18,000 are in Waco. About 38 percent have been pending for at least four months, Perry said. Perry said that the Texas Legislature would decide in the 2011 session whether to continue funding the program. The new initiative was met favorably by veterans attending the Monday press conference. Randy Vasser, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War for 14 months, said he waited four to six months on two different claims with the VA after filing for benefits two years ago. “I had filed the claims on my own and got frustrated, and some folks recommended that I look into the TVC because they have a lot of experience in helping other veterans,” Vasser said. “Once they got involved it got resolved really quickly. So I’m happy that they’re going to be able to help out more veterans.” Brig. Gen. Karen S. Rankin, chairwoman of the Texas Veterans Commission, said the commission’s experience and knowledge on the claims process will better assist veterans in providing information on their claims. She estimated that each veterans counselor can move through 850 to 1,000 claims each year. “If the veteran does not have an advocate like ours assisting with his claim, it is never going to go through the VA,” Rankin said. “The VA routinely denies a claim on the first submission. And it’s not because they’re mean, but it’s just that the system is so complex and it’s complicated. . . . It takes someone who is well-versed in the nuances of the claims process to know everything you have to have and get it right.” James Richman, director of claims representation and counseling for the veterans commission, said much of the work will involve identifying claims that are ready to move forward and helping gather evidence for claims in the development phase to prepare them for VA officials to make a final decision. “We can go through the cases and say to the veteran, ‘This is what the VA is going to need from you to process your claim. How can we get it?’ ” Richman said. “We can act as that liaison to put everything together instead of waiting for the VA to send out a letter a couple of months later about it, and the veteran may or may not be able to respond in a timely manner — eliminating all that lag time that keeps the claims from moving forward.” Richman said this initiative will also free up the VA to devote more staff and resources toward decision-making to hand down quicker rulings on claims. State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, attended the press conference and offered praise for the program. “The main thing is we want to do the right thing by our veterans in getting them access to their benefits, and I applaud Gov. Perry for using this unique opportunity to help our veterans,” Anderson said. rdennis@wacotrib.com

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Gov. Rick Perry endorsed by two-thirds of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC).

The Perry campaign is excited to announce the endorsement of 41 State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) members, representing more than two-thirds of the state’s 62-member SREC. Two endorsees, James Barnes of District 19 and Charlie Garza of District 29, recently left leadership positions on Senator Hutchison's campaign to support Governor Perry:

Stay tuned, because there are more to come. Add your endorsement at Perry Home Headquarters. You can also stay in touch with Governor Perry by following Governor Rick Perry's tweets and the campaign's tweets.

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The Battle of Presidio: A tiny Texas town braces for a flood of illegal immigrants.

November 23, 2009
National Review
Kevin Williamson
‘You don’t have to hit us in the head with a baseball bat too many times,” says Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, “before we start to think you’re doing it on purpose.” And so Governor Perry has a question for the Obama administration: Why ship thousands and thousands of illegal aliens from places as far away as San Diego, Calif., and Nogales, Ariz., all the way down to the tiny little village of Presidio, Tex. — population 4,167 — to deport them? The Obama administration says the answer to that question, or at least part of the answer, is the Chihuahuan Desert. Send illegals across the border at San Diego, immigration authorities have argued, and they’ll just hit a couple of happy hours in Tijuana before coming right back across to the United States. But get them on the other side of a vast and inhospitable desert, and the heat and the cactuses and the coachwhip snakes will do what the U.S. Border Patrol cannot: Keep Mexicans in Mexico. It’s a great theory, with one glaring flaw: It assumes that the Mexican authorities are going to transport deportees across the desert and back to their hometowns in the interior. Mexico is not going to do that. Mexico is a corrupt and oligarchic backwater, and illegal immigration is its main anti-poverty program. Anybody who has even a passing familiarity with the Mexican federal law-enforcement authorities knows better than to expect them to behave responsibly. And it’s not just negligence — Mexico actively encourages its poorest citizens to break north and send remittances (about $25 billion last year) south. Mexico exports its poor to the United States because it’s a lot cheaper than trying to care for them itself and, while the Mexican government has a woefully inadequate infrastructure for providing basic social services, it has a pretty good infrastructure, both formal and informal, for shunting its unwanted poor into the United States. It even issues its own identification card to illegals, the matricula consular, which is accepted as valid ID by some U.S. government agencies. The idea that deportees are going to get out of those Wackenhut buses convoying them down to Presidio and be taken inland by some putative El Wackenhut is preposterous. “They’re going to walk them halfway across the bridge and say, ‘Good luck,’” Governor Perry says. “On the one side, they’re going to be facing the desert. On the other side is Texas. Which way would you go?” The Border Patrol is going to be shipping nearly 100 illegals a day through Presidio. That means that every six weeks or so a quantity of illegals equal to the entire population of Presidio is going to pass over that bridge, all of them adult, male Mexican nationals. If even 10 percent of them turn around and reenter the United States — and it’s probably going to be more than that, if history is any indicator — this little town is going to be overwhelmed, and it doesn’t have anything like the resources to cope with those numbers. And the feds didn’t even let Texas know this was coming, Governor Perry says: Neither he nor anybody in his administration was informed of the decision. Governor Perry, who does not hesitate to characterize the Obama administration’s ambitions as socialist, thinks the administration is setting out to punish Texas. “You look at this, you look at cap-and-trade, which absolutely would punish the Texas economy — we get it.” Perry has repeatedly sought additional measures, including the activation of 1,000 National Guardsmen, to alleviate the border crisis. So far, the feds have been sitting on their hands. The Border Patrol says they have enough agents; 12 million illegal aliens say they don’t. “We have a good history with the Border Patrol, and I don’t blame the Border Patrol for this,” Governor Perry says. “This is coming from higher up, and they work for Janet Napolitano.” Secretary Napolitano recently told the liberal Center for American Progress that new immigration legislation is likely in 2010, and that the reforms will include an amnesty for illegals. That’s the sort of reform that makes the Chihuahuan Desert even less attractive.

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Texans for Rick Perry Launches Television Campaign With Release of "Texas Values"

Follow @GovPerry2010 on Twitter for campaign updates on Twitter, and follow @GovernorPerry for updates from Rick Perry himself. You can also find Governor Rick Perry on Facebook.

Below is text of the ad, titled "Texas Values."

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Hutchison Campaign Airing Dishonest Radio Ad

November 19, 2009
Senator falsely claims to have written state sales tax deduction law – it was actually Harry Reid With her campaign struggling and her poll numbers dropping, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is now broadcasting a dishonest radio advertisement that continues her attempt to mislead Texas voters about her 16-year record in Washington. The ad claims, “She wrote the Texas sales tax deduction saving families $500 a year.” This is false. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote the amendment to the fiscal year 2010 federal budget that made permanent the state sales tax deduction. As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on 4/3/09: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., led the effort on the Senate floor with an amendment to the federal budget bill for fiscal 2010. … Reid worked with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who had a similar amendment that did not include a reserve fund. ‘This is an important one because it is a matter of equity,’ Hutchison said as she withdrew her amendment in support of Reid's.” “In a sign of desperation, <a href="http://www.washingtonkay.com/blog/dishonest-radio-ad" target="_blank">Senator Hutchison</a> has resorted to taking her campaign of dishonesty to the airwaves,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Hiding behind false and misleading ads will not hide the Senator’s fiscally irresponsible record during her more than 16 years in Washington.” Sen. Hutchison is aware that her amendment did not pass – or at least she was on 4/2/09. Early that day, her Senate office issued a press release boasting of her introducing two amendments to the budget, including the state sales tax deduction. Later in the day, it issued a second release announcing the approval of her other amendment, but not the state sales tax deduction amendment. These press releases are available on her federal website at http://hutchison.senate.gov/releases.html.

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Welcoming the Republican Governors Association to Texas.

Governor Perry welcomed the RGA to Texas for their 2009 Annual Conference with an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman:

This week, I am proud to welcome 19 of my fellow governors to Texas for the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference. I look forward to discussing important issues facing our states and the best approaches to the challenges that lie before us.

As Washington continues to debate misguided, intrusive policies, seemingly without regard to their negative impact upon state taxpayers, employers and governments, states must step up to implement sound fiscal policies and pursue models of good governance that can lead our nation's economic recovery.

The conference will be an important catalyst of that effort, offering a platform for governors from across the nation to share their concerns on a variety of policy issues while exchanging innovative ways to address them. Governors can then carry those ideas back to their respective legislatures and work on initiatives that can help states and the nation better compete on a global scale and create greater opportunity.

Read Governor Rick Perry's entire op-ed here, and visit RGA.org for more information on this week's big event. You can also get updates from the conference on twitter. Use the hashtag #RGA and follow @GovPerry2010 and @GovernorPerry.

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Perry: By sharing stories of success, GOP governors chart a course for a better future

November 18, 2009
Austin American-Statesman
Rick Perry
This week, I am proud to welcome 19 of my fellow governors to Texas for the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference. I look forward to discussing important issues facing our states and the best approaches to the challenges that lie before us. As Washington continues to debate misguided, intrusive policies, seemingly without regard to their negative impact upon state taxpayers, employers and governments, states must step up to implement sound fiscal policies and pursue models of good governance that can lead our nation's economic recovery. The conference will be an important catalyst of that effort, offering a platform for governors from across the nation to share their concerns on a variety of policy issues while exchanging innovative ways to address them. Governors can then carry those ideas back to their respective legislatures and work on initiatives that can help states and the nation better compete on a global scale and create greater opportunity. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution must also remain an important part of the national conversation. As part of the Bill of Rights, the 10th Amendment simply and eloquently states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." As Washington continues to make centralized decisions, bails out and takes over private businesses, buries states in one-size-fits-all mandates and spends like there is no tomorrow, our nation seems to be heading down a path toward socialism. That trend makes the role of state government more important than ever. Our founders envisioned states as laboratories of innovation, competing against one another with local solutions, not beholden to federal dictates. I love that fact that Texas can compete head-to-head with other states for an economic development project then shake hands with them afterward, no matter who wins. That's the beauty of competition: It brings out the best in people and organizations, be they corporations or governments. This week, I will share elements of the Texas success story, including our approaches and their superiority to the imprudent policies working their way through Congress. We have alternatives to bigger government and increased debt. In Texas, we are setting an example based on principles of limited government, restrained spending and personal liberty. In Texas, we have worked to keep taxes low and regulations predictable, maintaining a focus on job creation that has kept our economy strong compared with the rest of the country. Texas has become the nation's top wind energy producer and a leader in solar and biofuels capacity by utilizing free market incentives instead of wielding debilitating mandates like those the federal government is pursuing. Texas has increased access to health care by reducing frivolous medical lawsuits, and continues to promote alternatives to government-run federal health care proposals. Texas has asked for a waiver of federal rules to reduce the number of uninsured Texans by restructuring federal Medicaid funding and the creation of the Healthy Texas Program, which would provide small employers the chance to provide lower-cost health insurance to working Texans. Texas' efforts and results are proof that state-based solutions work. Other states have their own stories of success as well. For instance, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi helped lead the charge to improve his state's health care through comprehensive tort reform and improvements to Medicaid. As a result, Mississippi saw its largest insurer of doctors cut its rates for the first time in years. In addition, the state's Medicaid program is not only spending less, but has reformed its prescription drug program to better utilize generic drugs, cutting prescription drug costs by 32 percent. As I share the Texas story with our guests, I look forward to hearing more success stories to get a clearer picture of how other states are approaching the challenges they face. I am confident that, by working together toward the common goal of applying conservative principles to create success and opportunity, we can build states that are.

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Hutchison Chases Texas Right

November 18, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
MIGUEL BUSTILLO
Senator Trumpets Cheney's Support in Governor's Race, but Perry Calls Her D.C. Choice HOUSTON -- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison may have won the backing of former Vice President Dick Cheney in her race for Texas governor, a key endorsement for a candidate seeking conservative support. But her drive to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Perry remains an uphill battle. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, above, in August announcing her candidacy to unseat Gov. Rick Perry, who is seen below with Texas Rangers in October. Ms. Hutchison, one of the Lone Star State's most popular politicians, was expected to mount a formidable challenge to Mr. Perry in one of the long-anticipated GOP primary battles of next year's elections. The GOP winner is an overwhelming favorite to be the next governor in this Republican state. .... But Mr. Perry has built a large lead in polls with less than four months to go to the March 2 primary. In part, he has scored points using what's shaping up as a popular strategy for many candidates during this election cycle, with rhetoric portraying Ms. Hutchison as a Washington insider out of touch with down-home Texans. He also has accused her of waffling on a pledge to resign from her Senate seat, which she had initially said she would do in October or November. "It really does appear that it is slipping away for her," said Calvin Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. .... The battle between Texas and Washington for Ms. Hutchison's time and attention has been one obstacle for the senator. She even had trouble attending her own rally with Mr. Cheney here Tuesday because she was voting on a military spending bill in Washington. That forced a two-hour postponement of her arrival. A Rasmussen poll of GOP primary voters last week showed Ms. Hutchison trailing Mr. Perry by 11 percentage points, in large part because of soft support among social conservatives. The survey involved 798 participants and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%. A similar survey last month by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune online news site found Ms. Hutchison 12 points behind Mr. Perry, who first took office in 2000 and is already the state's longest-serving governor. The poll had 800 participants and had a margin of error of 3.46%. .... Splitting her time between Texas and Washington has been "a deadly mistake," said Royal Masset, a GOP political consultant in Austin who is not working for either side. "This could not have been more perfectly set up for Rick Perry," Mr. Masset said. "This election is coming at just the right time for him, when there is this fear of socialism among some Republicans based on what is happening in Washington, and she is seen, fairly or not, as part of that Washington establishment."

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Gov. Perry: Have courage to fight bills

November 18, 2009
McKinney Courier-Gazette
Brian Bearden
Gov. Perry wants Texans to have courage to fight against bills pushed by Congress Packed house in Collin County warned that Obama's policies would be disaster <a href="/about">Texas Gov. Rick Perry</a> said there’s a reason that Barack Obama is president and the Democrats control the Congress. “Before the last election, there were too many Republicans who were elected that went to Washington and acted like a Democrat.” Perry, who made no mention of his Republican opponent in the governor's race, told a packed Monday afternoon gathering at Collin County Republican Party headquarters on Stacy Road in McKinney that citizens and voters need to be engaged, go to Tea Party rallies, attend Town Halls, write their representatives and battle for what they believe in everyday. Perry said the reason the president’s health care bill has not passed is because so many turned out across the country at town hall meetings in August. Perry said that although Democrats say the overflow town halls meetings were fake “Astroturf” and not actual grass-roots efforts, the movement is real. “You better believe it is real,” Perry said. “Harry Reid and the Democrats may say it is not, but the Senate would not have voted down the public option if it was not real. We need to be engaged. It is our responsibility.” Perry, who was not met with any protests during his talk, was asked if he required a teleprompter to give his speech. Perry said no thank you. Perry said voters need to beware of the Cap and Trade legislation being worked up on Capitol Hill. “The health care bill the Democrats want will be a disaster,” Perry said. “The Cap and Trade bill will be a disaster to the Southern states and Texas in particular. The president himself has said that energy costs will skyrocket. Electric bills will go way up. “Here is the sad part,” Perry said. “The administrator of the EPA herself has said that if passed it will not have a positive impact on the environment, but it will be a disaster for the United States.” Perry said that America needs to return more power to the states, as advised by Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.” Perry said let one state try health care or Cap and Trade first. “If a state has an idea, it can try it out first,” Perry said. The governor said more states might want to try lowering taxes. “States should be the labatories of innovation,” Perry said. “I don’t think I could get the other 49 governors to admit that they want to be like Texas. ... at least publicly. ... but you better believe they would love to have the situation we have in Texas.” Perry cited recent announcements by the governor of New York that it might be almost out of money, and California, where the Golden State is having problems. Perry cautioned that Texas is also going through tough times along with the rest of the economy. “You have to create jobs, and one of the ways to do that is not to over-regulate and tax them,” he said. Perry cited Collin County has a place that’s struggling but moving forward. As thousands continue to move into Collin County, Perry told the group at Craig Ranch that David Craig was right. “This used to be farms and fields,” Perry said. “He was right. They have to move somewhere.” Perry said the way to get people to move in instead of leave is simple. “In government after you take care of the basic necessities, you have to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it needs to do.” Perry said that elected officials need to keep government off the backs of working people. “There is a lack of courage in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “There is a lack of courage in a whole bunch of states where they didn’t say no to all the special interest groups. “In Texas, we didn’t have a choice,” he said. “We got together and said, ‘If we are Republicans, then we are going to act like Republicans.” Perry said the key to the economy rebounding comes down to jobs. “I don’t make an apology for being a pro-jobs governor,” Perry said. “You can’t have the better schools, roads, processes and what have you unless you have the jobs. This is where you have to have the courage, have the vision and love for your state. ... Listen - if you can do it, it is not bragging.”

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Cash-Strapped States Turn to 'Millionaire's Tax

November 13, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
Arden Dale
The policy of raising state rates on the rich has failed before. Through the early 1990s, several states maintained double-digit income-tax rates, but eventually brought them down partly because legislators realized they were driving out entrepreneurs. To keep good talent, create jobs and drive economic growth, state tax systems had to be competitive with their neighbors. Mr. Weigandt said the issue of high rates comes up with his clients most often in the context of selling a business. The question then is "what can I do about my taxes," and it can be tempting to relocate when the answer is that the tax bill could be cut by as much as 40% by just changing residence to Florida, Texas, Washington, Wyoming or another state with low or zero personal income tax. Picking up stakes needs careful thought and planning, though. States have gotten increasingly aggressive about tracking former residents and seeking taxes from them after they have moved.

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