Governor's State of the State Address
(AUSTIN) - On Wednesday, January 26, Governor Rick Perry delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the Texas Legislature. I believe the Governor has outlined an ambitious and positive agenda for Texas, and I look forward to working with him as we move further into the 79th Legislative Session.
In his speech Governor Perry highlighted job creation, and specifically, the Texas Enterprise Fund, which helped Texas land the largest capitol investment project in the nation in 2003 and the largest job expansion in the nation over the past four years. I believe the Governor has displayed strong leadership in economic development and creating jobs in Texas.
Governor Perry also showed great concern for children and their educators and his vision for education reform was the centerpiece of his address.
"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure children of every background are given a chance in life," Perry said. "Our challenge in education is to go from good to great by empowering children of modest means to live unlimited dreams. We still have an achievement gap in Texas schools that will be an opportunity gap when today's students become tomorrow's workers."
Perry has challenged Public School administrators and teachers to reach a new level and let them know they will be held accountable. He also told parents and children in public schools that they will be given options of their schools fail them.
Perry also displayed a commitment to seeing all Texans have adequate healthcare and will encourage people to obtain their insurance and healthcare through private industry and not government. He also touched on important programs like CHIP and Medicaid.
"Medicaid and CHIP meet a great need," Perry said. "Today more than two million children are insured by these two programs, compared to one million children just six years ago."
"When it comes to CHIP, better economic times will allow this legislature to re-examine the program's benefits, and provide dental, vision and mental health care. I support such an investment. Our goal should be to provide benefits we can afford while preserving CHIP for families that need it the most."
"The most startling fact regarding the uninsured in Texas is not that we rank 18th in the nation in the percentage of children covered by Medicaid but that we rank 46th in the percentage of children receiving employer-sponsored insurance. "
"We must not lose sight of the long-term goal to move more Texans from subsidized insurance to private insurance. Last session we provided small employers lower cost options and today there are health insurance options available that cost up to 30 percent less," Perry said.
Governor Perry also told Legislators that Texas must live within its means. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which will be at the center of the budget writing process, I agree with his philosophy on this issue.
"We did not tax and spend our way to a revenue surplus," Perry said. "And we need not tax and spend our way to future shortfalls. Our challenge is to make sound, strategic investments that stand the test of time."
"Today I am submitting a budget that substantially increases investments in jobs, public education, higher education, health care and protective services and that reduces spending at 60 percent of our state agencies. And it provides a $2.3 billion cushion to close out the books on this biennium and invest even more money in key priorities," Perry said.
Perry also touched on other high-profile issues the Legislature will take up during this session. On taxes, I stand firmly with Governor Perry on reforming and reducing property taxes.
"It is time to cut property taxes for the hardworking people of Texas," Perry said. "In fact, let's not only give Texans property tax relief, let's give them appraisal relief too. Texans don't like taxation without representation and they are sick and tired of taxation by valuation."
Following the address, the leaders of both Texas Legislative bodies had high praise for the Governor's remarks. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said it was one of the best speeches he had ever heard from Governor Perry.
"I applaud the high standards Governor Perry has set for Texas, for his resolve to reform school finance, to improve the quality of care in Child Protective and Adult Protective Services, and to consider innovative ideas to grow our state economy," Dewhurst said. "In the Senate, we are ready to partner in the effort to improve public education, protect essential services for the vulnerable in our society, and pursue the fundamentals necessary to bring more jobs to Texas."
House Speaker Tom Craddick had equally high praise for the Governor.
"Today, Governor Perry set the bar for the 79th Legislative Session with his tremendous State of the State Address," Craddick said. "His call for improvements in public education, Child Protective and Adult Protective Services, workers' compensation, and continued economic growth are all significant issues that must be addressed in the days ahead. I, and my colleagues in the House, anticipate working with the Governor and the Lt. Governor to continue seeking successful resolutions that will ensure that Texas is an ever greater place to live in the years to come."
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0556 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: email@example.com.