Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist has held most Republicans by the scruff of the neck during recent tax debates due to their having signed the ATR anti-tax pledge, which states that the signees will not vote for a tax increase any time, for any reason. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who received accolades from Norquist during his presidential run, is aiming to start a similar pledge in the Lone Star State:
Borrowing a page from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist’s playbook, Perry said on Monday, “Each and every member of the Legislature or anyone aspiring to become a member of the Legislature should sign on.” And right on the Governor’s website, individuals and lawmakers can sign on to the Compact: Yes, I stand with Governor Perry and I support his Texas Budget Compact. I want my state representatives in the Texas Legislature to sign on to Governor Perry’s Texas Budget Compact.
The compact calls for complete opposition to tax increases, as well as constitutional spending limits and restrictions on using the state’s Rainy Day Fund (which Perry previously plugged using federal money meant for education). While Perry isn’t personally tracking who signs his pledge, he said that outside organizations might.
Part of the compact calls for legislators to eschew budget gimmicks, even though Perry himself is quite fond of using such gimmicks to balance his budget. As Texas State Rep. Mike Villarreal said in a statement, “Governor 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.”
Fortunately, several lawmakers at the federal level have broken with Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. “I think anybody who doesn’t indicate their willingness to look at revenues — expiration of tax loopholes, tax credits, increase in contribution to Social Security, which is a tax, and otherwise — would be disingenuous and irresponsible,” said GOP Rep. Timothy Johnson (IL).