Texas Governor
Pat Sullivan  /  AP
Texas Gov.Rick Perry speaks during a campaign stop Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010 in Houston. Perry said Thursday in Houston that federal spending is out of control and unless it's reined in, it will ruin the country.
updated 1/7/2010 6:15:36 PM ET 2010-01-07T23:15:36

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, saying federal spending is out of control, on Thursday called for the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require Congress to balance the federal budget.

"Washington's business as usual will ruin our nation," Perry said at a news conference held at a Houston business that makes polyethylene products.

Perry cited the Senate's vote last month to raise the government debt ceiling to $12.4 trillion, as well as a bill to overhaul the nation's health care system and cap-and-trade federal climate legislation, as examples of government spending that will be an unfair financial burden to fiscally responsible states like Texas.

The governor said his push for the amendment is an effort to tell Washington that taxpayers will no longer "allow this rampant spending with no regard to how we are going to pay for it in the future."

A balanced budget amendment has been debated in Congress over the years but has failed to pass.

Perry's call for the amendment followed an appearance Wednesday in Lubbock where he also railed against Washington and big government. There, he issued proposals aimed at making it tougher for legislators to raise taxes and limiting the amount that state spending could grow.

While Perry didn't mention his opponent in the March GOP gubernatorial primary, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, he continually faulted Congress for its fiscal practices while praising Texas for creating an environment that promotes economic growth through low taxes and a legal system that discourages frivolous lawsuits. Perry has accused Hutchison of being a Washington insider.

First ReadHutchison's campaign said the senator has a long record of supporting a balanced budget amendment.

"Perry's election-year rhetoric doesn't match his record of taking Texas on a nine-year spending spree, doubling the state debt, expanding the bureaucracy and making the state's budget reliant on Obama stimulus dollars," said Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder.

Hutchison's campaign accused Perry of being overly dependent on federal dollars, including $12.1 billion in stimulus money that helped Texas balance its most recent two-year budget, and not doing enough to cut wasteful spending.

But Perry said such claims are false.

"The argument ... you took stimulus dollars so therefore you were part of this problem — no, we took dollars, put them into place, one-time expenditures," Perry said. "We said we would not create any new programs with these dollars that were ongoing costs."

The governor also noted that he rejected $550 million in federal stimulus money to help the state's empty unemployment insurance trust fund because it would have required expanding jobless benefits and would have been an ongoing cost to Texas taxpayers after the stimulus money ran out.

Perry also sent letters to other governors and Texas lawmakers asking for their support in getting a balanced budget amendment passed.

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