Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he has been "kind of pushing people" to come together on a Texas state budget that would make significant cuts to public education.
The governor, speaking to reporters outside a ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel, said legislative leaders were moving toward a deal that would avoid a special session. "I don't want to finalize the budget in here with you all — the House and the Senate are going to be who makes the final decision but we're very, very close," he said. "There always is a lot of emotions and what have you, and I've yet to see the perfect budget written," he said. "I'm optimistic at the end of the day, the 30th of May, the 31st of May, that we'll have a budget.
He said the House had moved somewhat closer to the Senate in terms of the total amount to be spent on public education — and are perhaps only $850 million apart at this point. "Eight-hundred-and-fifty million dollars is not chicken feed, but in the grand scheme of a budget, that is the size our budget is, when we're talking about $80 billion of general revenue here, I hope, and I think, that cool heads will prevail, and that we won't stumble over the House and the Senate not coming together."
Perry was asked if he was going to provide "cover" to House members who are struggling to support a bigger budget.
"I think the House members have put forward a budget, and actually they've been moved a good bit towards the Senate from the standpoint of the dollars that are being put in," he said. "At the end of the day, we're all going to stand up today and say, 'This is a budget we can be proud of.' If that's the cover they're looking for they'll get it."
"We sat and talked," Perry said when asked about his meetings with legislators in recent days and what he has been doing to bring them together on a budget deal. "As I have done for many legislative sessions, kind of pushing people, cajole, having private meetings..."
Perry said if the U.S. Congress can pass a budget, the Texas Legislature should be able to do it. "The people expect us to get our work done. The last thing I think folks want to go home to is, say, you know even Washington is functioning with a budget, you can't?''