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DALLAS-Gov. Rick Perry, hot on the campaign trail, unveiled a five-point plan for budget reforms during a “state of Texas address” yesterday before the Greater Dallas Chamber. As he rallied the call for reform, he stood steadfastly behind HB3 and its highly controversial margin tax during a post-luncheon press conference.

The commercial real estate sector has been mounting an offensive all summer over the hot-button issue. Several of the state’s most powerful lawmakers have vowed to bring the margin tax to the floor when the 80th legislature reconvenes in January in Austin. Accounting giant Deloitte has labeled the margin tax as being tantamount to an income tax.

Perry strongly disagreed with the accounting firm’s conclusion–pointing to the attorney general’s ruling to the contrary. “I stand behind what we did,” Perry stressed to the press. “I’d say we made a really good decision.”

Opponents say the margin tax will hurt business and damage Texas’ pro-business reputation in the marketplace for jobs. “It won’t hurt business in the state,” Perry said, who earlier cited the depth of the national and international ties that have accounted for 650,000 new jobs coming into the state since 2003.

With 41 days until the electoral D-Day, Perry has sounded a call for five budget reforms to “restrain spending, open the state government checkbook to the public and end the disingenuous money-shifting shell games that allow funds to be spent on priorities other than what was promised.” The proposed reforms run the gamut from detailed line items in the budget to a constitutional amendment to return surplus revenue to taxpayers.

Perry said he’s been trying for three years to get some of the proposed reforms in place. His political agenda of late has included setting up a task force for appraisal reform and calling for a halt to special-purpose taxes that in many cases end up with the revenue being diverted to other accounts. He said he also plans to seek $100 million from the feds to “protect our southern border.”

Foremost, though, is keeping Texas business-friendly to get more jobs, relocations and expansions. “Economic development is the most important thing that the government does,” Perry told the 350 members attending the chamber luncheon at the InterContinental Hotel in North Dallas.

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