PERRY DELIVERS FAREWELL ADDRESS
|Rick Perry addresses a joint session of the Legislature as Governor for the last time.|
(Austin) — The man who has held the governorship of Texas longer than anyone before him bade farewell in an address delivered Thursday before a joint session of the Legislature. Rick Perry told the assembled lawmakers, elected officials and well-wishers that he was optimistic about the future of the state. "I am confident that Texas will remain the best place to start a business, to find a job and realize one's God-given potential," said Perry. "We are the new frontier of freedom and opportunity."
Perry first assumed office in 2000 when then-Governor George W. Bush resigned to prepare for his presidency. Perry's 14 year span, winning re-election 3 times, in 2002, 2006 and finally in 2010, is unprecedented in Texas history. Throughout his long term, Perry said, following conservative economic values has made the state of Texas the most successful state in the country. He touted job growth, saying that nearly a third of all jobs created in the US were created in Texas, and Texas has added 1.7 million jobs since 2007, while the nation as a whole lost a net 400 thousand jobs over that same period. By focusing on keeping spending low, taxes low and regulations reasonable, Perry said Texas has become the greatest state for business in America.
Perry also promoted Texas-style solutions to a number of major issues facing the state. He promised that Texas would continue to secure the border with Mexico, with or without federal assistance. He also highlighted the state's approach to drug and alcohol abuse, saying that it was smarter to treat these issues as health care problems rather than criminal justice problems. "When it comes to the issue of addiction, the question is not how to help bad people become good, but how to make sick people become well," said Perry. By turning to specialized drug courts and diversion programs that emphasize treatment over incarceration, Perry said the state has been able to close three prisons, reduce repeat offenses by drug offenders, and achieve the lowest crime rate since 1968.
Perry ended his address by asking legislators from both sides of the aisle to put aside political differences. None of the achievements of the new century would have been possible, he said, without Democrats and Republicans working together. "Compromise is not a dirty word if it moves Texas forward," said Perry. "If members of this body will work across party lines, put Texas first, I believe the best is yet to come."
Also Thursday, Lt. Governor-Elect Dan Patrick announced the creation of several "Lt. Governor's Advisory Boards", where private citizens are appointed to offer recommendations on the best ways to create public policy. Patrick announced six panels, each headed by a member of the public with expertise in that area. Those areas are economic and workforce development, water, transportation, energy, economic forecasting and tax policy. Patrick said it is important that government tap the expertise of the private sector. "As Lt. Governor, I intend to be the most plugged-in Lt. Governor in the history of the state to what's happening in the trenches, on main street, in small businesses and big business, and down to neighborhoods and communities," he said. "And I'll be a better Lt. Governor and we'll be a better Senate for it."
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, January 20th at 11 a.m.