Kronberg prints the Strayhorn/Perry verbal volleys
The state has $4.3 billion that hasn't been appropriated (some was set aside, purposely). Sounds like a good thing? Perry and Strayhorn are exchanging words about it.
I was about to write, "Must be campaign season." But really, these two don't really need an excuse to fire a press release about the other, do they? But that's fine; the reason we have elections is to let voters decide who they like better. Kronberg:
Strayhorn stressed that her revenue estimate was not an update of her revenue forecast. She said the $4.3 billion simply reflected the actions of the regular and special sessions in 2005. She also refused to speculate on how the money could affect how the Legislature targets tax reform. "Iím not going to even play that game," she said. "This speaks for itself."
She addressed criticism by Perry on Wednesday that she was delinquent in collecting $2.6 billion in funds due to the state and that she was late in making her revenue estimate. She said the funds in question had been referred to the state Attorney General after her office made every attempt to collect the money. Some of the money has lain uncollected for up to 10 years.
Strayhorn, who is running for governor as an independent, accused Perry of playing politics with the numbers.
"I believe that the governor of the state has a responsibility to know the facts and to tell the people of Texas the truth," she said. "This is a partisan attack, a political attack, and once again the governor is not telling the people of Texas the truth.
Kathy Walt speaking on behalf of the Governor's office issued a statement chastising the Comptroller.
"Though Comptroller Strayhorn has a long history of revising her revenue estimates, today she took it one step further by contradicting a previous number she published as final just three months ago. Bottom line: this comptroller canít count."
The Governor's office added the following explanantion: "Today Strayhorn raised by $800 million the amount of unanticipated revenue she reported Texas had at the close of the fiscal year on Aug. 31, 2005. As recently as November, in her own officeís Fiscal Notes publication, Strayhorn wrote that she had closed the books on the 2004-05 biennium and had identified $1.2 billion in unanticipated revenue that came into the state during the last three months of the year. Today she admitted she was off by $800 million by now saying there is $2 billion in unanticipated revenues. If she had closed the books on the biennium, why is she changing the bottom line by $800 million? "
Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton responded, ""On Sept. 1, 2005, the first day of the new fiscal year, Comptroller Strayhorn reported to the people of Texas and the Legislature the good news about the stateís revenue situation. She said, after closing the books on the fiscal year, $1.2 billion in unanticipated and unexpected revenue was available.
Hamilton continued, "Over the course of the next several weeks and months, the Comptrollerís office reviewed income and expenditures for hundreds of year-end state agency accounts. It was that lengthy review that allowed her to report today an additional $800 million in available revenue. This is a normal review and report produced by the Comptroller's office each biennium after the certification of the General Appropriations act."
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