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.
Perry spoke to about 100 East Texans on Thursday at the Longview Community Center. Perry is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina, former chairwoman of the Wharton County Republican Party.
"The single most important job a governor does is create a climate where people have the opportunity to succeed," said Perry, who's held the post since being sworn in Dec. 21, 2000.
Perry said under his leadership, Texas passed a balanced budget, cut taxes for businesses and retained about $8 billion in the fund balance "for a rainy day."
"It didn't happen by accident," he said. "It happened because fiscally conservative decisions were made in this state in the last two years."
The federal government needs to follow a similar formula that includes cutting spending, creating a regulatory climate that encourages business and allowing local officials to manage schools, Perry said.
Air in Texas has become cleaner since Perry took office, he said. Texas produces 9,000 megawatts of wind energy, which he said is more than any other state. He also said Texas has an abundance of natural gas and has maintained positive job growth during the past decade.
Related to roads, Perry said 80 percent of the state's population lives in the triangle that connects Dallas-Fort Worth with San Antonio and Houston, and more roads are needed in the area. He said in East and West Texas, the state needs to build loops and accesses.
Texas' population is projected to double by 2030, he said, and without the infrastructure plan to move people efficiently, the state would "be a mess." Perry said he doesn't support tolls or a gas tax increase to build more roads.
"You must have visionary, experienced leadership," he said. "I have helped create a state that I hope you are as proud of as I am."