FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Governor Rick Perry has taken the oath office for an unprecedented third full term.
Perry begins perhaps his most tumultuous stint as governor as the state faces a massive budget shortfall. Corporate donors and wealthy Texans are picking up the $2 million tab for the 2011 inaugural, but the pomp is being scaled to strike a more austere tone during tough economic times.
Perry portrayed his state as a model for the nation, saying historians will call it the “Texas Century.”
Festivities began at 11:00 a.m. in Austin with the swearing in ceremony, followed by a free barbecue lunch on State Capitol grounds. Preparations for the big day have been underway since last week.
Not only were inauguration events scaled back but a traditional parade down Congress Avenue in downtown Austin was canceled and a black tie ball in the evening has been transformed into a celebration calling for cocktail attire.
The state’s fiscal troubles could actually overshadow the day’s inaugural events. Lawmakers are expected to also release a first draft of the state budget on Tuesday — one of the leanest proposals in history – giving a glimpse at how they will deal with a revenue shortfall estimated to be as high as $37 billion.
Republican leaders have promised no tax increases, which means deep budget cuts to state services. On the eve of the inauguration, Perry admitted that everything – from education to health services – will be on the table for consideration. “All of those programs, every one of them,” Perry said, “are going to be looked at and analyzed for their cost versus benefit.”
Experts are predicting an increase in fees charged to businesses and consumers, which could raise state revenue without necessarily raising taxes.
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