East Texas conservatives young and old packed into a Lindale business Wednesday afternoon to meet a former presidential candidate and record holder in Texas politics.
Gov. Rick Perry appeared in East Texas before more than 150 people packed, standing room only, into the Miranda Lambert Store in downtown Lindale.
Perry, accompanied by state representatives Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, used the opportunity to shake hands, hug children and emphasize his Texas Budget Compact.
The governor also endorsed all three candidates, who are up for reelection this year.
Berman and Hughes have signed the compact, which is focused on five conservative principles focused on transparency, limits on spending, opposition to taxes, preserving the rainy day fund and reducing the size of the government.
Perry, Berman, Hughes and Willett touched on all the issues in short speeches delivered to the audience, supporting the compact that Perry wants representatives to sign as a promise to maintain those principles.
“Be truthful in the budgeting process, that’s all we’re asking,” Perry said about the compact’s first tenant. “Be transparent about how you’re spending (taxpayers’) money. There’s no such thing as government money. It’s your money and … we’re the stewards of (it).”
He said legislators should shy away from tapping into the state’s rainy day fund to cover basic operating costs. Those funds, he said, should be reserved for crises such as 2011’s wildfires, floods and other natural disasters and to ensure that bonds taken by the state continue to have low interest rates.
He advocated slashing government agencies performing redundant processes and agencies.
Nineteen-year-old Lindale resident Benjamin Cooper said he attended the event primarily to see Hughes, and that the governor’s presence was an added benefit.
He said he agreed with Perry’s rhetoric in the compact.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “It’s a model other leaders can follow.”
Seeing Berman, Hughes and Willett alongside Perry was inspiring, he said.
“It’s neat to hear from leaders who definitely stand out from the rest of the crowd,” he said.
Former Lindale Mayor Jim Mallory and his wife, Jeanette, also were on hand for the rally.
Mrs. Mallory said the governor’s words and plan sounded like a roadmap for success in addressing economic issues that have been weighing on her mind.
“I was very pleased because I’m so very concerned about the economy and debt load facing the country,” she said during a brief reception after the speakers. “We’re all hurting.”
Mrs. Mallory said she was aware of some of the criticisms of the compact laid out by Texas Democrats who say endorsing and following the compact will further cripple state services such as education that were hard hit by last session’s budget cuts.
She said she disagrees with that assertion and puts her faith in the elected conservative officials.
“I feel we have people in the government for us at the state level that are realistic and concerned,” she said. “We’re just honored that these representatives of a conservative government have come to our city.”
Mallory agreed with his wife and said he felt the compact fully embodied the right-to-work principles in place in Texas.
He said having the governor come to East Texas was a big deal for him and other conservatives.
“I really enjoyed what he said,” the former mayor said. “This is really important for East Texas and Lindale.”
Perry ended his speech by offering his thanks to the regions deeply conservative constituents.
He did not take questions from the media or audience.
“Thank you all for being God-fearing conservatives that reflect everything that’s good about Texas,” he said. “The people that you select to come to Austin Texas, it gives me great comfort that the future of this country is bright because Texas is going to lead the way out of this morass economic place that were in.”