Gov. Rick Perry highlighted legislative accomplishments of the 82nd Legislative Session, and urged lawmakers to take swift action on unfinished legislative business as outlined in his call for a special session. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, where he commended legislative action that passed the state budget without raising taxes while preserving the Rainy Day Fund, and measures that addressed emergency items and other priority legislation.
"The voters of Texas made it clear last November that they wanted a leaner, more efficient state government with no new taxes, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished together to deliver that and more," Gov. Perry said. "The steps taken over the past 140 days have placed Texas on the path to even greater prosperity in the years to come. I look forward to lawmakers taking quick action on the important issues remaining before them in the special session."
Gov. Perry praised legislators for making the tough choices necessary to keep Texas living within its means in the face of one of the most significant budget challenges in our state's history. Lawmakers have passed a fiscally responsible budget without raising taxes, while maintaining essential services and preserving more than $6 billion in the Rainy Day Fund to keep the state equipped to respond to potential natural disasters or ongoing national economic challenges.
The governor also applauded lawmakers for their work in passing key issues he declared emergency items. These include measures that strengthen Texas' legal climate by implementing a loser pays system to cut down on frivolous lawsuits; protect the integrity of elections by requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls; protect life by requiring a woman to receive a sonogram before electing to have an abortion; strengthen private property rights by passing eminent domain protections into law; and call on the U.S. Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment. Additionally, Gov. Perry highlighted important legislation that will combat human trafficking, giving prosecutors the tools to ensure those that commit this crime are brought to justice and strengthening the penalties for those who are convicted.
Yesterday, Gov. Perry issued the call for a special session to address fiscal matters necessary for the implementation of House Bill 1, including measures that will allow school districts to operate more efficiently, and measures to address healthcare cost containment, access to services through managed care, and the creation of economic and structural incentives to improve the quality of Medicaid services.
Last night Governor Perry appeared "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. Governor Perry gave his thoughts to Greta about the situation along the U.S./Mexico border and Barack Obama's latest statement that the border is secure. To see the first of a two-night segment, click here http://gretawire.blogs.foxnews.com/gov-rick-perry-on-th...
Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed House Bill 274, which brings important lawsuit reforms to Texas courts, including implementing a loser pays system for frivolous lawsuits in the state. The governor designated this issue as an emergency item for this legislative session. Gov. Perry was joined by Rep. Brandon Creighton and Sen. Joan Huffman for the signing ceremony.
As America has on so many past Memorial Days, we observe today’s holiday with troops in harm’s way in combat zones overseas. As has always been the case our military is serving with distinction and bringing honor to our nation.
Whether it’s an Army PFC standing guard duty or a member of the team who brought Osama Bin Laden to justice, our troops have no equal in terms of devotion, courage and professionalism. As a result, our nation should have no peer in the way we honor the fallen.
Gov. Rick Perry today ceremonially signed Senate Bill 18, which implements landmark eminent domain reforms to strengthen private property rights. The governor designated this legislation as an emergency item for the 2011 Legislative Session. He was joined by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Sen. Craig Estes, Sen. Robert Duncan and Rep. Charlie Geren for the bill signing.
Once again, those observing Texas' strong economy are crediting Governor Perry's fiscal conservative leadership. This time the kudos come The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary. In "Texas Shows the Way," published on May 19th, the article points out that in these tough economic times, our state continues to only spend what it can afford. What's more, Texas gets credit for getting more bang for its buck when it comes to education. Now that's the definition of fiscal conservative!
Please read the WSJ's Political Dairy entry below...
Texas Shows the Way
Texas lawmakers often take pride in providing a strong contrast to California's tax-and-spend politicians. So it's not surprising that Texas Republicans are seeking to close their two-year $23 billion budget gap by cutting education and not raising taxes.
The Texas House budget lops off $8 billion from education, and the Senate plan cuts $4 billion. Last year, school budgets totaled $51 billion, $23 billion of which came from the state. The state's cuts might not be as tough for districts to swallow if student enrollment weren't skyrocketing. But over the past decade, Texas's school aged population has grown by roughly 30%. According to one survey, the state enrolls 500 new students every school day.
Last week Jim Pitts, the GOP chairman of Texas's House Appropriations Committee, warned the legislature that many schools could be forced to shut down eventually if lawmakers don't appropriate more money for education. Teachers unions have also warned that the budget could result in between 80,000 and 100,000 layoffs.
Since state law caps local property tax rates, districts can't raise them when state funding decreases. In 2001 a number of school districts sued the state arguing that it violated a constitutional mandate to adequately fund education. The districts won that case, which could serve as a precedent for future lawsuits.
Yet it's important to maintain perspective. The National Education Association reports that Texas spends $9,227 per pupil, or roughly $1,300 less than the national average, but still more than what either California or Florida spends. Texas also seems to get more bang for its buck. According to a federal National Assessment of Education Progress report, Texas has higher math and writing test scores and a lower pupil-teacher ratio than the national average.
Lone Star Republicans say that education cuts will only be temporary and that the state's economic resurgence will restore funding in the next couple of years. They have good reason to hope so. Texas accounted for 17% of the nation's job growth in March. While other states are raising taxes to spare education, Texas's low tax base will spur economic growth, which over time will provide more revenue for schools.
After years on the run, Osama bin Laden was finally brought to justice Sunday night. On behalf of all Texans, I'd like to extend our gratitude to the brave men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to tracking this individual down, particularly the members of our valiant special forces who flew into harm's way Sunday to finally put an end to bin Laden's murderous reign. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who will continue to wage our global fight on terror, placing their own lives on the line to keep us safe back here at home.
Gov. Rick Perry today touted Texas’ successful approach to job creation and economic development, and recognized the impact of Dr. Arthur Laffer’s economic principles to Texas’ successful economic approach. The governor spoke at the launch of the Laffer Center for Supply-Side Economics, established in partnership with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama late Saturday afternoon, Gov. Rick Perry requested a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas as a result of widespread wildfires and continuing fire danger across the state. The governor identified 252 Texas counties presently threatened or impacted by wildfires. Since the wildfire season began, Texas has responded to 7,807 fires across the state that have burned more than 1,528,714 acres and destroyed 244 homes. Rescue efforts have saved 8,514 threatened homes.