Governor Rick Perry is calling on legislators to stay the course with proven fiscal principles and policy initiatives that have made Texas the number one job creator in the nation.
Perry told lawmakers in his State of the State address Tuesday that Texas is not immune to the economic crisis, but it is in better shape than most other states. He credited the state's relatively strong economic condition to tough, principled decisions made over the past three legislative sessions.
Although lawmakers have a lower budget to work with this session, the governor says the state can still invest more money in important priorities adding that lawmakers must continue to invest wisely in bringing businesses and new jobs to Texas. He says when others see threats during tough times, Texans see opportunity. Perry outlined one policy initiative to freeze college tuition for four years at the rate a student pays as an entering freshman.
He says that would give parents a chance to plan and provide initiative for students to finish college on time. Perry also wants to extend the in-state tuition rate to all veterans and increase investments in community colleges. Education remains a key priority for the state, and Perry urged legislators to continue emphasizing student performance accountability, and funding of teacher incentive and dropout prevention programs. He says the state must tackle obesity, starting in schools with an incentive-based fitness program.
Perry says the state must build out transmission and distribution lines to move alternative power to where it's needed.
He emphasized the need to solidify Texans' private property rights through a Constitutional amendment limiting government's eminent domain authority to traditional public uses.
Perry also wants to renew funding for border security programs and to combat violent transnational gangs.
The 2008 storm season's financial impact was unprecedented in Texas, and Perry says the state cannot rely on the federal government for help. Perry wants to create and fund a disaster contingency and relief account that gives locals the resources they need, when they need them.
The governor says legislators must roll up their sleeves and get to work on the economic situation, adding he wants more financial transparency across the state. Perry believes Texas is best served if the governor and the Legislature work together to jointly craft a budget that reflects principled commitments to the state.
Perry wants to replenish the state's economic incentive funds with $260 million to the TEF and more than $203 million to the ETF to help create jobs. He also wants to allocate more than $622 million to continue and expand teacher incentive and reward programs. He proposed increasing student financial aid with $110 million for the TEXAS Grant program and tripling funding for community college financial aid.
He wants $150 million allocated to the disaster contingency fund, and $135 million for state-led border security strategies. Perry says as state leaders work on behalf of all Texans, they must put the people first.