Governor Perry delivered his State of the State address this week, proposing to consolidate or suspend non-critical state agencies in order to make state government more streamlined and efficient. The governor also outlined his priorities for the 82nd Legislative Session, including balancing the budget without raising taxes, preserving essential services, and strengthening Texas' position as a national economic leader through sound policies. Check out the Governor's entire State of the State address below.
Join over 100 groups in supporting Gov. Perry for re-election
HOUSTON – Today Gov. Rick Perry received the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush for the general election. They were joined by representatives from more than 100 organizations and hundreds of leaders who have endorsed Gov. Perry’s re-election, highlighting his diverse, statewide support, which represents millions of Texans.
“Gov. Perry’s leadership and proven track record is an essential component in keeping Texas a national leader in job creation,” said former President George H.W. Bush. “Texas has become a prime example of what happens when you mix fiscal responsibility, strong leadership and a vision of moving a state forward. It is an honor to endorse Gov. Rick Perry for the general election.”
George H.W. Bush was sworn in as president of the United States in January 1989 and served until January 1993. During his term in office, the Cold War ended; the threat of nuclear war was drastically reduced; the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced by a democratic Russia with the Baltic States becoming free; the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified with Eastern Europe; and he put together an unprecedented international coalition to liberate Kuwait.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush is a tireless advocate of volunteerism, helping countless charities and humanitarian causes. Today she and President Bush serve as Co-Chairs of C-Change, an organization that represents more than 150 individuals and groups that fight cancer. She also enjoys reading to children at schools and hospitals across the nation.
“I am deeply honored to receive the endorsement of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush,” said Gov. Perry. “His devotion and leadership, to our country, has brought forth inspiration to us all.”
Gov. Perry’s endorsements highlight the broad-based support he has from diverse groups and industries, ranging from agriculture, health care and retail sales, to construction, law enforcement and education.
In his remarks, Gov. Perry emphasized the creation of 850,000 Texas jobs in the last ten years and the recent drop in the unemployment rate in Texas; leaving the national rate nearly two points above ours. He also touted our state’s low taxes, predictable regulatory climate, fair legal system and education efforts as crucial elements that have helped make it a national leader in exports and Fortune 1000 companies.
"Bill White’s call for tax increases is the last thing working families of Texas need in these challenging economic times.
“Transportation, border security and education are just some of the issues that will be a priority in the next state budget. However, just as families have to prioritize spending to make ends meet, so too must their government.
“The people of Texas expect their elected officials to reduce spending and practice fiscal responsibility, not raise taxes in search of additional revenues. I will continue to work with the legislature to identify ways to cut taxes so families can keep more of their hard-earned dollars and keep the Texas economy the envy of the nation.”
There is a clear choice in this race. Choose Governor Perry, not tax hikes.
On the 80-mile drive from San Antonio to the Texas capitol in Austin, it’s difficult to miss the signs of growth. At every highway exit, it seems, huge new shopping malls greet motorists. Valleys where cattle grazed five years ago now sport shiny new Target stores, tract homes, and tennis courts. Between 2000 and 2009, Texas added about 4 million residents, more than half of them migrants from elsewhere in the nation. And Texas will almost certainly emerge from the recession with the nation’s strongest and most important economy.
In May alone, Texas, America’s second most populous state, added over 75,000 jobs—more than California (the biggest), New York (third biggest), and Florida (fourth biggest) combined. Texas has shown consistent gains in 10 of the 11 categories of private employment that the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures. The state is far more than cowboys and oil: It has several of the nation’s leading medical research centers (Baylor and UT hospitals among them), one of the biggest computer makers (Dell), and a financial industry that never took a turn for the worse. And, even though unemployment remains a tick over 8 percent (about a point and a half lower than the national average), the rapid growth is bringing this down quickly. During the last week in June, the job-hunt website Monster.com offered more new job openings in Texas than in California even though the Golden State has over 10 million more people. In a nation looking for economic good news, Texas stands out as a bright spot.
On the eve of the second Texas Republican gubernatorial debate, Gov. Rick Perry told East Texans that under his administration, Texas has set a blueprint to recover from the economic crisis that he believes Washington should follow.
"Tonight’s debate gave Texans the chance to hear competing visions for our state’s future while reflecting on the remarkable success story our state has written over the last several years.
"As our nation’s economy continues to struggle, our best prospects lie with maintaining our job-friendly climate, continuing to strengthen our education system, keeping our border secure and pushing back against the flood of misguided policies pouring out of Washington.
"I hope that our success has earned the confidence of Texas voters and that they will continue supporting me in leading our state with hard work, innovation and careful fiscal stewardship."
EL PASO -- In Texas, when it comes to transportation, money talks and ... well, you know the rest of that saying.
That's why it was surprising to see that Texas gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson would make public an elaborate transportation plan without pinpointing where the money to pay for it would come from.
One of her major initiatives, for example, would be the construction of a commuter rail system to link the Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston areas. (El Paso's rail would have to wait for the next governor, I guess.)
That rail triangle is an awesome idea. There's a lot of commercial traffic among those cities, and the business people who travel in the area would appreciate a reprieve from the cumbersome airports, I'm sure.
But when each mile of rail costs millions of dollars to build, Hutchinson is looking at a very costly endeavor with seemingly no funding mechanism in place to make it happen.
Perhaps Hutchinson -- who is facing Gov. Rick Perry in a tough Republican primary this spring -- thinks the money will come from the savings that the committee to identify wasteful spending at the Texas Department of Transportation will find.
Or maybe that extra money will go toward building enough roads to keep up with the rapid growth in Texas, since her plan also wants to put a halt to much of the toll-road construction that is helping cities like El Paso get much-needed highways.
Of course, the back-and-forth between Hutchinson and Perry over transportation continues with this plan.
After all, Hutchinson was quick to herald the death of the Trans Texas Corridor earlier this year as a sign that Perry's pull in the state is waning.
It's only fair that he would call her plan bureaucratic and ineffective.
And now that both of these candidates have weighed in on transportation, it's time for Texas' Democratic candidates to speak up.
Maybe their strategy will include El Paso in their commuter rail plan.
AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry quickly rebuffed a suggestion by the chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee on Friday for a 10-cent increase in the state gasoline tax to help finance Texas’ transportation needs.
Sen. John Corona, R-Dallas, challenged state leaders to get behind the proposal as a much-needed shot in the arm for Texas’ deteriorating road network. The 20-cent gasoline tax hasn’t been raised since 1991. Motorists also pay 18 cents in federal taxes.
But Perry, who is seeking re-election to an unprecedented third four-year term, said that an increase would run afoul of his goal of holding the line on state taxes and that Carona’s proposal is not likely to get a "warm welcome" in the Legislature. "I’m not real fond of raising taxes when there’s a recession going on," Perry told reporters. "We ought to be looking at ways to cut taxes — not raise them."
“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.
We Texans value our property and private property rights are at the very core of a free society.
That explains why the controversial Kelo decision of 2005 rocked the nation as property rights activists rolled up their sleeves to get greater protections written into state constitutions, as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested.
The Texas legislature has passed a bill which, if passed on the November ballot, will improve private property rights in the State of Texas. By declaring that Prop.11 is "counterfeit eminent domain reform," some opponents are suggesting the legislation doesn't go far enough.
Rather than focusing on what is in the proposition, some naysayers are busy telling you what is not in the proposition. It is true that good faith negotiations, diminished access to property, relocation of displaced landowners, and voter approval of eminent domain are not covered in the proposal.
However, those are not issues which arose from the Kelo case that this legislation was designed to remedy. Those are issues that came up in property owners' opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor. Should the issues be addressed? Sure, but they can just as easily be addressed in statute as the constitution.
You may recall that the Kelo decision allowed local entities to take property - even homesteads - if the local government could get more in tax revenues were the property converted to another use - like a shopping center.
This isn't the legislature's first try to stop that opportunity. Legislation passed in the 2007 Legislative Session didn't make it to the ballot. With the support of the bill sponsor, Rep. Frank Corte, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill.
Some would have you believe that Gov. Perry's 2007 veto of HB 2006 should result in the defeat of this measure because it does not propose that everything that was in that bill be added to the Texas Constitution. Even the Farm Bureau isn't buying that logic. That veto may have cost the governor the Farm Bureau's endorsement this campaign cycle, but the Farm Bureau is strongly in support of this constitutional measure. They recognize that this does not give them everything they would like, but it certainly moves us forward in the process of private property rights protection.
Here is how Proposition 11 would amend the Constitution in four primary ways:
1. It would define the term "public use," rather than leaving the definition of that term up to court interpretation;
2. It would specify that the taking of property for the purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes is not a public use;
3. It would provide that property taken to eliminate urban blight must be done on a parcel by parcel basis; and
4. It would require that any future power of eminent domain granted requires a 2/3 vote of the Texas Legislature.
So, why a constitutional amendment instead of statutory reform? The U.S. Supreme Court in rendering the Kelo case overturned years of precedent and changed the definition of public use that is found in both the Texas and U.S. Constitution. To prevent further erosion of property rights in Texas, there had to be a constitutional fix to the definition of "public use."
The definition used in Proposition 11 defines both what public use is, and reiterates what it is not. Public use does not include the taking of property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes. That's protection we don't have if the proposal fails. But, Prop 11 goes even further to prevent the taking of property to eliminate urban blight except on a parcel by parcel basis. This will stop local governments from declaring a few pieces of property as blighted and then taking all the property in an area for a development project.
Passage of private property protection has been a long time coming in Texas. Passage of Prop. 11 will send a clear message to legislators that the issue is of utmost concern to the voters. Failure to pass the measure will let them know there is no need to continue to work on the issue because the people making the most noise will not even be content with a victory.
Peggy Venable is the State Director for Americans for Prosperity- Texas, www.afptx.org .