There is an old saying that is applied to diplomacy: “Don’t pay attention to what they say. Pay attention to what they don’t say.” The wisdom of these words could prove to be very important as work on the state budget progresses. Here is what the governor actually said in his statement concerning the budget deal between his office and House Appropriations chairman Jim Pitts:
I remain steadfastly committed to protecting the remaining balance of the Rainy Day Fund, and will not sign a 2012-2013 state budget that uses the Rainy Day Fund.
“Will not SIGN.”
Notice what Perry did not say. He did not use the V-word. He did not say, “I will VETO a 2012-2013 state budget that uses the Rainy Day Fund.”
An oversight? Not hardly. Think what you will about Perry, but he is not someone who paints himself into corners. He has proved many times over that he is a shrewd and calculating politician and negotiator.
I think Perry left himself the wiggle room to allow the final appropriations bill to use some Rainy Day Funds and to become law without his signature. For this to happen, however, budget writers would have to get the final version of HB 1 to the governor’s desk by May 20. The governor has 10 days before sine die (May 30) to decide whether to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If the governor were to veto the bill within the ten-day period, the Legislature would have a chance to override the veto. The smart play for the Legislature is to get the budget to the governor’s desk as early as possible, but we all know that the glacial pace of the Legislature generally and budget writing in particular means this would never happen.