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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- States do not need a "knee-jerk" reaction from the federal government to events such as Friday's mass killing of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, Gov. Rick Perry said Monday night at a pre-Legislature forum sponsored by NE Tarrant Tea Party.
He pointed to Texas' concealed-carry handgun law that requires training, registration and background checks before a license is issued. Texans who get such a license "should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state," Perry said to the applause of about 375 people at the NRH Centre city recreation complex.
Texans need to look at how to address school security, how to work with the mentally ill and to appreciate their families and loved ones, he said.
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"I hope all of us will just really reflect on how fleeting life can be," Perry said, expressing sympathy for the Connecticut parents who lost their children. "We have to do everything that we can to make sure that those types of evils are restricted the best that it can be."
The Tea Party forum included area state legislators and was billed as an opportunity to hear about their plans for next legislative session, which convenes Jan. 8.
People arriving at the center were greeted by about 30 people protesting the Legislature's cuts in public school financing.
The last Legislature cut $5.4 billion slated for public schools, but revenues are coming in higher than originally estimated, Jerry Burkett of Keller said.
"Not only is [there] the expectation to restore the cuts that were done in the last Legislative session, the expectation is to also increase the funding because of the increased rigors of testing and the other expectations that the Legislature has placed on our public schools," Burkett said.
During the forum, the legislators, who spoke before Perry, laid out an agenda that included low taxes, transparency in government, opposition to what they called "Obamacare," requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing, opposition to abortion, reduced government regulation and a pro-business environment.
They, too, expressed sadness about the deaths in Newtown, Conn.
"That aside, we still have the right to protect ourselves," said Rep.-elect Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth.
Rep.-elect Jonathan Stickland, R-Hurst, said: "Tarrant County just sent the most conservative group down to Austin that this state has ever seen."
On other issues, Perry said that he was trying to lure California businesses to Texas, calling California a "target-rich environment" after voters there recently agreed to raise taxes. He also expressed opposition to expanding Medicaid because by 2023 it could eat up a third of the state budget.