This week, I am proud to welcome 19 of my fellow governors to Texas for the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference. I look forward to discussing important issues facing our states and the best approaches to the challenges that lie before us.
As Washington continues to debate misguided, intrusive policies, seemingly without regard to their negative impact upon state taxpayers, employers and governments, states must step up to implement sound fiscal policies and pursue models of good governance that can lead our nation's economic recovery.
The conference will be an important catalyst of that effort, offering a platform for governors from across the nation to share their concerns on a variety of policy issues while exchanging innovative ways to address them. Governors can then carry those ideas back to their respective legislatures and work on initiatives that can help states and the nation better compete on a global scale and create greater opportunity.
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution must also remain an important part of the national conversation. As part of the Bill of Rights, the 10th Amendment simply and eloquently states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." As Washington continues to make centralized decisions, bails out and takes over private businesses, buries states in one-size-fits-all mandates and spends like there is no tomorrow, our nation seems to be heading down a path toward socialism.
That trend makes the role of state government more important than ever. Our founders envisioned states as laboratories of innovation, competing against one another with local solutions, not beholden to federal dictates.
I love that fact that Texas can compete head-to-head with other states for an economic development project then shake hands with them afterward, no matter who wins. That's the beauty of competition: It brings out the best in people and organizations, be they corporations or governments.
This week, I will share elements of the Texas success story, including our approaches and their superiority to the imprudent policies working their way through Congress. We have alternatives to bigger government and increased debt. In Texas, we are setting an example based on principles of limited government, restrained spending and personal liberty.
In Texas, we have worked to keep taxes low and regulations predictable, maintaining a focus on job creation that has kept our economy strong compared with the rest of the country.
Texas has become the nation's top wind energy producer and a leader in solar and biofuels capacity by utilizing free market incentives instead of wielding debilitating mandates like those the federal government is pursuing.
Texas has increased access to health care by reducing frivolous medical lawsuits, and continues to promote alternatives to government-run federal health care proposals. Texas has asked for a waiver of federal rules to reduce the number of uninsured Texans by restructuring federal Medicaid funding and the creation of the Healthy Texas Program, which would provide small employers the chance to provide lower-cost health insurance to working Texans.
Texas' efforts and results are proof that state-based solutions work.
Other states have their own stories of success as well. For instance, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi helped lead the charge to improve his state's health care through comprehensive tort reform and improvements to Medicaid. As a result, Mississippi saw its largest insurer of doctors cut its rates for the first time in years. In addition, the state's Medicaid program is not only spending less, but has reformed its prescription drug program to better utilize generic drugs, cutting prescription drug costs by 32 percent.
As I share the Texas story with our guests, I look forward to hearing more success stories to get a clearer picture of how other states are approaching the challenges they face. I am confident that, by working together toward the common goal of applying conservative principles to create success and opportunity, we can build states that are.
Gov. Perry wants Texans to have courage to fight against bills pushed by Congress
Packed house in Collin County warned that Obama's policies would be disaster
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said there’s a reason that Barack Obama is president and the Democrats control the Congress.
“Before the last election, there were too many Republicans who were elected that went to Washington and acted like a Democrat.”
Perry, who made no mention of his Republican opponent in the governor's race, told a packed Monday afternoon gathering at Collin County Republican Party headquarters on Stacy Road in McKinney that citizens and voters need to be engaged, go to Tea Party rallies, attend Town Halls, write their representatives and battle for what they believe in everyday.
Perry said the reason the president’s health care bill has not passed is because so many turned out across the country at town hall meetings in August.
Perry said that although Democrats say the overflow town halls meetings were fake “Astroturf” and not actual grass-roots efforts, the movement is real.
“You better believe it is real,” Perry said. “Harry Reid and the Democrats may say it is not, but the Senate would not have voted down the public option if it was not real. We need to be engaged. It is our responsibility.”
Perry, who was not met with any protests during his talk, was asked if he required a teleprompter to give his speech. Perry said no thank you.
Perry said voters need to beware of the Cap and Trade legislation being worked up on Capitol Hill.
“The health care bill the Democrats want will be a disaster,” Perry said. “The Cap and Trade bill will be a disaster to the Southern states and Texas in particular. The president himself has said that energy costs will skyrocket. Electric bills will go way up.
“Here is the sad part,” Perry said. “The administrator of the EPA herself has said that if passed it will not have a positive impact on the environment, but it will be a disaster for the United States.”
Perry said that America needs to return more power to the states, as advised by Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.”
Perry said let one state try health care or Cap and Trade first.
“If a state has an idea, it can try it out first,” Perry said.
The governor said more states might want to try lowering taxes.
“States should be the labatories of innovation,” Perry said. “I don’t think I could get the other 49 governors to admit that they want to be like Texas. ... at least publicly. ... but you better believe they would love to have the situation we have in Texas.”
Perry cited recent announcements by the governor of New York that it might be almost out of money, and California, where the Golden State is having problems.
Perry cautioned that Texas is also going through tough times along with the rest of the economy.
“You have to create jobs, and one of the ways to do that is not to over-regulate and tax them,” he said.
Perry cited Collin County has a place that’s struggling but moving forward. As thousands continue to move into Collin County, Perry told the group at Craig Ranch that David Craig was right.
“This used to be farms and fields,” Perry said. “He was right. They have to move somewhere.”
Perry said the way to get people to move in instead of leave is simple.
“In government after you take care of the basic necessities, you have to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it needs to do.”
Perry said that elected officials need to keep government off the backs of working people.
“There is a lack of courage in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “There is a lack of courage in a whole bunch of states where they didn’t say no to all the special interest groups.
“In Texas, we didn’t have a choice,” he said. “We got together and said, ‘If we are Republicans, then we are going to act like Republicans.”
Perry said the key to the economy rebounding comes down to jobs.
“I don’t make an apology for being a pro-jobs governor,” Perry said. “You can’t have the better schools, roads, processes and what have you unless you have the jobs. This is where you have to have the courage, have the vision and love for your state. ... Listen - if you can do it, it is not bragging.”
The policy of raising state rates on the rich has failed before.
Through the early 1990s, several states maintained double-digit income-tax rates, but eventually brought them down partly because legislators realized they were driving out entrepreneurs. To keep good talent, create jobs and drive economic growth, state tax systems had to be competitive with their neighbors.
Mr. Weigandt said the issue of high rates comes up with his clients most often in the context of selling a business. The question then is "what can I do about my taxes," and it can be tempting to relocate when the answer is that the tax bill could be cut by as much as 40% by just changing residence to Florida, Texas, Washington, Wyoming or another state with low or zero personal income tax.
Picking up stakes needs careful thought and planning, though. States have gotten increasingly aggressive about tracking former residents and seeking taxes from them after they have moved.
Midland was ranked the No. 1 small metropolitan area by the Milken Institute this week, holding on to the top position it was given last year because of the success of its oil and gas economy.
"The 2009 Best-Performing Cities report for 2009 is validation of governance based on conservative principles and values," said Rep. Tom Craddick, in a statement. "In the Permian Basin, we promote sound economic policy and free-enterprise values on a daily basis."
The Milken Institute, a non-partisan policy think tank, compiled the rankings and noted Texas as having several high-rated cities because of its business climate. Austin was ranked the No. 1 larger metropolitan area, ahead of No. 2 Killeen-Temple. Odessa was No. 5 among smaller metropolitan areas.
Midland's high score came because the institute found its five-year and one-year job growth rate as well as its wage and salary growth rate were higher than other comparable areas.
The rankings are based on figures through 2008, and whether Texas and Midland will maintain its high marks when 2009 figures are examined remains to be seen.
Gov. Rick Perry's office credits the high rankings to the state's effort to keep taxes down, create a predictable regulatory climate and foster an education system that produces an educated workforce.
"When people across the nation look at Texas, they're discovering that we've fostered an environment that encourages people to pursue their dreams, build businesses and create jobs," Perry said, in a statement.
The report credits Texas as a whole because of its ability to attract jobs and companies from other states. And while the energy industry is a significant part of the state's high rank, Ross DeVol, senior economist at the Milken Institute and lead author of the report wrote that it also was rated well because of the state's effort to diversify by bringing in high-tech companies and attempting to create more research universities.
Craddick also credits the rankings to the state's decision to hold down spending, pass lawsuit reform and to establish a "rainy day fund," according to a release. For the state to see continual success, he said, similar conservative moves need to continue.
"Although Texas is relatively strong today, we will face critical challenges in the future. Our response to each of those challenges must be measured and guided by the same limited government, free market principles that have served Texas well." Craddick said, in a statement.
AUSTIN - Texas followed the nation into recession the second half of last year, but the worst is over and by next year the state's economy - including job growth - will rebound, a well-known economist predicted Thursday.
"The biggest decline was in January, but now there is a mild recovery," Keith Phillips, senior economist at the San Antonio office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said at the annual meeting of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, a nonprofit business group.
Congress is on the verge of enacting the largest unfunded mandate in American history. At a time when most states are struggling with rising unemployment, declining tax revenue and the worst national economic climate in 30 years, Congress is demonstrating that it is more out of touch than ever.
The Democratic health "reform" bill in the Senate would require states to expand Medicaid to include all people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four. House Democrats want to require expansion to 150 percent of the poverty level, or $33,075 for a family of four. Even Texas, which has a balanced budget and nearly $9 billion in its rainy-day fund, isn't prepared to absorb this type of blow.
Complaints from majorities of Republican and Democratic governors alike continue to fall on deaf ears. Congress seems intent on forcing a one-size-fits-all mandate on states, some of which actually have solutions to repair their health-care systems that Washington is preventing them from trying.
Texas, for example, has adopted approaches to controlling health-care costs while improving choice, advancing quality of care and expanding coverage. Consider the successful 2003 tort reform. Fewer frivolous lawsuits have attracted record numbers of doctors to the state as medical malpractice insurance premiums dropped by half. Christus Health, a large Catholic nonprofit system with a significant presence in Texas, spent about $100 million on liability defense payments in 2003. Last year, Christus spent $2.3 million on such payments. Much of that savings has gone into expanding health-care services in low-income neighborhoods.
You might think Washington would be curious about plans to provide more low-income Texans with insurance, reduce expensive emergency-room visits for basic care and make it easier to buy into employer-sponsored insurance. Unfortunately, Washington has failed for 18 months to give Texas permission to use Medicaid dollars for these policies.
Historically, the federal government has paid an average of 57 percent of state Medicaid costs. In a transparent attempt to bribe governors and state legislatures into accepting 15 million to 20 million new people nationwide onto Medicaid rolls, Congress is proposing a series of additional subsidies to states to cover 90 percent of the costs of the newly mandated populations. In true Washington form, these handouts would be debt-financed, through the generosity of foreign bankers, to be paid back by future generations of American taxpayers.
Expanding the Medicaid program in Texas alone to include an additional 2 million people would cost $20 billion to $30 billion over the next 10 years. Regardless of how that cost is shared between the federal and state governments down the road, we believe that level of new mandated spending is grossly unacceptable.
Even more stunning than this fiscal irresponsibility is Congress's disregard for the quality of the Medicaid program and the well-being of the people in it. Medicaid is the lowest payer in the health-care system. It reimburses physicians 20 to 30 percent less than even Medicare, which pays costs at a much lower rate than do private insurers. If a doctor or hospital is facing bills, staff salaries and medical malpractice premiums, it is obvious which patients will get preference.
We note with concern that the Government Accountability Office reported in January that Medicaid made an estimated $32.7 billion in improper payments in 2007, equal to a full 10 percent of the program. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pointed out that the average improper payment rate for non-health government programs is 3.9 percent. He introduced an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that would have prevented expansions of Medicaid until the secretary of health and human services could certify that its improper payment rate was equivalent to that of non-health programs, but that amendment failed on a party-line vote. The rate of improper payments needs to be addressed.
The Democratic health-care proposals do nothing to expand choice, lower costs and empower patients. They would add to, without reforming, bulky, overpriced programs that would in turn add to our already crushing burden of national debt. Reckless expansion would ultimately reduce the quality of U.S. medical care.
Such tragedies can be averted if the powers-that-be in Washington set aside their devotion to centrally planned, debt-financed, one-size-fits-all solutions and work cooperatively with those laboratories of innovation known as states. Otherwise, we'll end up with a one-size-hurts-all situation.
Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Rick Perry is governor of Texas.
“Twenty years ago, you could go to Texas, where they had very low taxes, and you would see the difference between there and California,” Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography.com and a presidential fellow at Chapman University in Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times this past March. “Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California’s government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class.”
Similarly, the CEO of a manufacturing company in suburban Los Angeles told a Times reporter that his business suffered less from California’s high taxes than from its ineffectual services. As a result, the company pays “a fortune” to educate its employees, many of whom graduated from California public schools, “on basic things like writing and math skills.” According to a report issued earlier this year by McKinsey & Company, Texas students “are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age,” though expenditures per public school student are 12 percent higher in California.
State and local government expenditures as a whole were 46.8 percent higher in California than in Texas in 2005–06—$10,070 per person compared with $6,858. And Texas not only spends its citizens’ dollars more effectively; it emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. In 2005–06, per-capita spending on transportation was 5.9 percent lower in California than in Texas, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5 percent lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter losing the will to live while sitting in yet another freeway traffic jam. With tax revenues scarce and voters strongly opposed to surrendering more of their income, Texas officials devote a large share of their expenditures to basic services that benefit the most people. In California, by contrast, more and more spending consists of either transfer payments to government dependents (as in welfare, health, housing, and community development programs) or generous payments to government employees and contractors (reflected in administrative costs, pensions, and general expenditures). Both kinds of spending weaken California’s appeal to consumer-voters, the first because redistributive transfer payments are the least publicly beneficial type of public good, and the second because the dues paid to Club California purchase benefits that, increasingly, are enjoyed by the staff instead of the members.
Today's public benefits fail that test, as urban scholar Joel Kotkin of NewGeography.com and Chapman University told the Los Angeles Times in March: "Twenty years ago, you could go to Texas, where they had very low taxes, and you would see the difference between there and California. Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California's government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class."
These judgments are not based on drive-by sociology. According to a report issued earlier this year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Texas students "are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age," even though per-pupil expenditures on public school students are 12% higher in California. The details of the Census Bureau data show that Texas not only spends its citizens' dollars more effectively than California but emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial.
Gov. Rick Perry says the state will invest $2.5 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to assist Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in expanding its operations in San Antonio.
The governor’s office says the move will help to create 750 high-paying jobs and generate more than $94.8 million in capital investment in Texas.
Nationwide is based in Columbus, Ohio. The company offers a full range of insurance and financial services and has operations across the United States.
It was not immediately clear how many people Nationwide currently employs in San Antonio.
The bulk of the initial job growth will be in the areas of sales and services positions, which will help support existing business and generate new growth for the company.
“Nationwide’s expansion in San Antonio is a testament to the success of the TEF and Texas’ status as the best state in the nation to invest, work and raise a family,” Perry says. “Companies like Nationwide will continue to create jobs in Texas because of our state’s low taxes, regulatory environment and educated and diverse workforce.”
John Raybuck is regional vice president of Nationwide’s Texas operations.
“The Texas Enterprise Fund, combined with the attractive workforce in San Antonio, were key factors in our decision to choose San Antonio for expansion of our operations,” he says.
At Perry’s request, the Texas Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and re-appropriated funding in 2005, 2007 and 2009 in order to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House. Supporters say the fund has become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business.
To date, the TEF has invested more than $383 million in projects generating more than 56,000 new jobs and more than $14 billion in capital investment in the state.
Interview with Texas Gov. Rick Perry
By Lou Dobbs Tonight
DOBBS: Conservative voting power can make the difference at upcoming key elections across the country. Here comes November 3rd. A new Gallup poll shows the number of Americans as describing themselves as conservative outnumber both moderates and liberals in this country. The trend could benefit Texas Governor Rick Perry. He's caught up in a tough primary battle to remain his party's electorate. Governor Perry joins us here now. Good to have you with us. Are you surprised by that poll, the Gallup poll showing conservatives overwhelming both moderates and liberals?
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: No, it doesn't necessarily surprise me. We go back and forth in this country, back and forth, hope and change gets people's attention and then we look at policies and people go, wait a minute, that wasn't the hope --
DOBBS: Need a little more change.
PERRY: The change we were hoping for. It's out there and people are looking for folks to stand up and say, here's what I believe in, here's what I'm going to do, or to have a record to look at.
DOBBS: You say Texans are so fed up with big government that the state may want to succeed. The federal government certainly hasn't become any smaller. What do you think about the necessity of succession?
PERRY: I don't think that's exactly the quote that I made. But let's just say that people are fed up with big government. There is a reason that Republicans are not in power in Washington, D.C. a lot of folks put their hands up and say, listen, elect me and I want to go be a Republican and then they went up and they voted like Democrats. And people kicked them out. People are fed up with government spending our kids' future. These $1 trillion deficits are scaring people. Health care bills that have $1 trillion attachments to them, people are just fed up with that.
DOBBS: You and Kay Bailey Hutchison are tied in a -- statistically tied in a recent Rasmussen poll. What's your plan to win the primary?
PERRY: I just run on my record. When you look at a state that's got 1,000 a people a day moving to it, a place with more than fortune 500 companies, inarguably Texas is the envy of the other 49 states economically. I'll put that record up against anybody.
DOBBS: You have five patrolled ports of entry into the state, as you know. Do you think homeland security Janet Napolitano is doing enough to secure the borders? And we'll limit that just to the state of Texas.
PERRY: And neither did the previous homeland security director.
DOBBS: Michael Chertoff.
PERRY: Neither one are doing enough. We've asked this administration for 1,000 National Guard troops to come, put boots on the ground. We haven't gotten an answer. There's a conflict between the department of defense and homeland security about who's going to pay for it. I don't care who's going to pay for it, just get the troops on the ground. Let's use the technology available. Why not fly predator drones up and down that border region. They're training drones anyway. They're practicing for the real deal. Let's use them, take that data, use it to help on our homeland security.
DOBBS: What's the number one issue for the state of Texas in the next five to ten years? And what are you doing about it?
PERRY: Making sure we keep the economy going. There's nothing more important than any governor does. I like to see states compete against states. So keeping that economic climate very positive in the state of Texas so that people know they can keep more of their money, they can have the type of quality of life, they can have the freedoms that they desire. If states get focused on the tenth amendment, if we continue to make Texas a place where people want to live, obviously, when there's 1,000 a day coming there, there's a reason for it, and it's the economy, stupid.
DOBBS: All right. Well, we're going end to with you calling me stupid. Governor, good to have you with us.
PERRY: Good, Lou.
DOBBS: Governor Rick Perry, good to have you here.