Gov. Rick Perry: Why Texas Works

The governor describes the keys to the Lone Star State's success at the Freedom Center's Texas Weekend.

Editor’s note: Below is the video and transcript of Gov. Rick Perry’s speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Texas Weekend. The inaugural event took place May 3rd-5th at the Las Colinas Resort in Dallas, Texas.

Governor Rick Perry from DHFC on Vimeo.

Rick Perry:  And, David, it’s an honor to get to see you again and be in your presence.  And we’re certainly glad to have you here in Texas.  And even if your mailing address does continue to be in California.  (laughter)  I mean, really, California?  It – all the cool kids are moving to Texas, David.  (laughter)

But I’m just kidding because, I mean, God knows, if there is a place that needs David Horowitz, it is California.  (laughter) So, you know, the basic question I love to ask folks when I talk to people in California or Illinois or overseas, for that matter, is that, you know, what makes Texas so special?

And there’s a number of ways to go about that answer.  We are a unique culture.  We’re proud.  We are patriotic.  Fiercely dedicated to the values of individual freedom and responsibility.  We are a mix of backgrounds.

We are incredibly diverse state, culturally, ethically, philosophically.  No matter where you come from or what you believe, you can feel right at home in Texas.  Granted, if you’re a liberal, Austin’s probably about the only place that you’re going to feel really at home.  (laughter)

But it’s a great place and they love it there.  If you enjoy the finer things in life from world class orchestras to world class food, you can find it in Texas.  Same if you enjoy camping, fishing, hunting, hiking or even surfing, we have it all.

Of course, that’s what truly sets us apart over the last decade has been our economic climate.  And that’s something that we’ve worked very hard to develop, to cultivate.  It’s a climate built upon the fiscally conservative principles that have served us well through good economic times and throughout major national recessions.

CEOs are looking for something simple.  And that simplicity is predictability.  And in Texas, they know that they’re going to get just that.  They know they won’t be taxed into bankruptcy.  They know that they – that we have a low tax burden here.  That’s the foundation of this state’s tax philosophy.

We do that because we realize that more money in the hands of Texans is how you create more jobs in this state.  We realize that more jobs for hard working Texas tax payers means more options, more freedom, healthier Texas families.

People have gotten that message, too.  Our population continues to grow at somewhere north of 1,000 people every day move into this state.  Employers also know that they can put down roots in Texas.  That they won’t be tied up in miles and miles of government red tape.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t take care of our own.  That we don’t have appropriate regulatory climates.  As a matter fact, we’ve cleaned up our air in the last decade more than any other state in the nation during that same period of time.

But it’s proof that you can have thoughtful regulation and at the same time lift your environmental quality as well.  What it means is that we’re reasonable.  We’re efficient when it comes to the regulatory process.

Don’t a – just take my word for it.  Ask people like Andy Puzder.  Andy was the CEO of Carl’s Jr.’s, headquartered out in California.  He said that opening a new restaurant in California takes eight months.

Eight months before you can even break ground to start the construction.  In Texas, it takes about six weeks.  That’s a big reason you’re seeing more Carl’s Jr.’s as you drive around, Pat.  I don’t know if you use that establishment or not but you’re going to see a lot more of them in Texas.

Employers know that the Texas court system, for instance, won’t allow for over suing.  Someone in the audience said a thank you as I walked in for – in 2003 we passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation.  And there – and in 2011 we passed loser pay.

And again, sending the message (applause) that you can come to the State of Texas and you won’t be over sued.  The more time and money that’s spent in courtrooms is less time that you’re creating jobs in this state.

And then finally employers know that we have cultivated a work force that stands ready to fill any need as – that that employer may have.  Whether it’s on an assembly line, whether it’s on a sales line or whether it’s in a laboratory.

We’re about a decade into these efforts to improve our economic climate.  And I think the results speak for themselves.  Foreign Direct Investment magazine recently awarded Texas the 2012 Governor’s Award for being the most successful state in the nation in attracting foreign investment. And that publication is far alone in its praise for the Lone Star state.

Chief Executive Magazine named Texas the country’s best state for doing business for the eighth consecutive year.  We’ve committed to making that nine, I would suggest to you, in the very short future.  (laughter)  Texas also received accolades from media outlets like USA Today and CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Site Selector magazine.

More importantly than good press, though, is the fact that Texas continues to be the nation’s epicenter for job creation.  Texas employers have added more than a half million private sector jobs over the last two years alone.  A total of nearly 1.4 million jobs in the last ten years.

And as exciting as our present is, our future, I will suggest, is holding even more promise.  We remain very proud of our status as a national home to energy production.  Now, Mr. Hanley and I were talking about the energy industry in the State of Texas.

And we’re likely to find even more of that in the near future, I would suggest to you.  Though our healthy economy and strategic investment in research and young, innovative companies is what I want you to focus on just a bit.

There – I think during the presidential race someone made the comment that, “Gosh, come on, it’s easy being governor of the State of Texas.  I mean, that’s like going, playing poker and drawing four aces, right?”

“It’s not quite that easy, sir,” as I told him.  (laughter)  I said, “It’s not quite that easy in the State of Texas.“  The point they were making is you’ve got all that oil and gas so obviously your economy’s going to be good.

In 1984, right before Texas teetering on the brink and going down on a long, long journey downward economically, oil and gas made up approximately 14% of our Gross State Product.

Today, after all of the massive amounts of gas and oil that have been discovered over the course of the last five and six years in particular with George Mitchell’s extraordinary innovation of hydraulic fracturing and the hor – or the directional drilling that’s going on.

All of the shale gas that has been found, the Eagle Ford and the Barnett shale, the Haynesville and even in the old Permian Basin, renov – rejuvenated.  Even with all of that, and oil at close to $100 a barrel, oil and gas industry makes up less than 10% of the Gross State Product in the State of Texas today.

This state has exploded in a very diverse way.  In biotechnology and medical technology and manufacturing.  And after today at the N.R.A. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get some more weapons manufacturers moving into the State of Texas.  (applause)

Last year Batelle reached a study – released a study that said that Texas was the top job creator in biotech.  That trend will only increase as we go into the future.

Just a couple of months ago GlaxoSmithKline announced that they were going to join up with Texas A&M University in a private sector effort there and public – profit partnership, expending $91 million to create a new vaccine facility at that university that is going to be able to address issues not only of terroristic threats but also pandemic events that can occur in the world.

So in Texas you’re going to see the ability to address.  Historically it took nine months to go from one strain to another strain because it was an egg-based concept.  An egg-based process.  And they have developed a process of which it’s cell-based.  And now they can go from one strain to another strain in 45 days.

Soon in Texas there will be a process in place to create vaccines so that half a world away where Third World countries are being decimated by diseases or viruses and to save literally the potential of millions of lives, that’s what we’re about in this state.

That’s what we’ve created here because we’ve been innovative and we created an environment where entrepreneurs know that they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on their investment.  We’ve helped start-up companies keep their discoveries that are made here in Texas, instead of going to either coast.

That was historically when our universities came up with a great innovation it took off for the coast because that’s where the money was.  That’s where the technology and the researchers to take it to the next step, the gap funders, if you will.

That is truly changing and has changed where those companies are staying in Texas.  As a matter of fact, we are recruiting those mature companies from either coast to the State of Texas now.  (applause)

You think about, historically Texas has been a place where innovation did occur, whether it was the integrated circuit at T.I., whether it was during the space race of the ‘60s at Johnson Space Center, whether it was – again, I mentioned George Mitchell and that unlocking of the vast energy resources around the world.  That came from Texas technology.

And whether we’re on the cutting edge of energy or biotech or communications or commerce or privatized efforts to get our world back into space, Texas is going to be at the forefront of that movement.

The question before us now is how do we preserve and improve our economic health in the years to come?  Probably the biggest obstacle that we have, and this is part of human nature, is our own success.  With our economy surging, our revenues our collections are on a very steep upward trajectory primarily based on sales tax here in the State of Texas.

And that’s led a lot of people, whether it was in the media, the newspaper, the television and our own legislature, to make the case that the time for fiscal conservatism is over.  They all talk about how much extra money we have floating around these days.

Of course, they’re ignoring that it’s our policies of restraining spending and limiting taxes that have led to that economic success.  They’re also ignoring the fact that there is no such thing as extra money.

And the tough decisions that we will make this session are no different than the tough decisions that we made in previous legislative sessions.  We still have to prioritize, we have to separate wants from needs.  We still have to think about what’s in the best interest, the long-term best interest of our communities and our state.

We still need to make good decisions now to ensure that we remain the economic power that we have grown to be.  And other states aren’t going to make it easy.  I saw Bobby Jindal today as we were passing.  And Bobby’s in the process of trying to do away with the personal income tax in Louisiana.

And I told him, I said, “You’re going to make me really uncomfortable if you do that.“  (laughter)  He said, “Good.“  And I said, “Awesome.“  I said, “That’s what we’re about to compete against each other.”

That’s the future of this country, I will suggest to you.  To Washington to recognize these laboratories of innovation that we have in this country, to allow these states to compete against each other, to get away from this one-size-fits-all whether it’s on social issues or whether it’s financial decisions and economic decisions.

Allow the states to come up with the answers that they need, that they want for their people.  That’s the way that we make America strong again.  (applause)  This administration, and frankly this Congress, is – will continue to try to force these foolish, costly mandates down our throats.

And when we don’t go along with them is really, they’ll chide us and they will say that we’re not being properly cooperative, was the words that the President used this last week.  That’s how President Obama described it.

He said that we were not properly cooperative.  And I know that he did not mean that as a compliment but I took it as one.  (laughter)  I actually took it as a compliment.  I am not properly cooperative with them on that issue of Obamacare.

We said no to setting up a state exchange.  (applause)  And it’s only a state exchange.  It’s only a state exchange in name only.  They call it a state exchange but here are all the rules and this is what you have to – it has to look like this.  It’s totally and absolutely mandated by Washington, D.C.

We also refused on multiple occasions the idea of expanding Medicaid in the State of Texas.  (applause)  Medicaid expansion, simply put, is just misguided.  It is ultimately a doomed attempt to mask the shortcomings of Obamacare.

Just this week we started seeing warning signs across this country of insurance companies, insurance premiums going to skyrocket.  We’re hearing rumblings about a lot of people losing their jobs, Pat, because of Obamacare.

We realized early on that pouring millions of dollars into this broken system was foolish.  I made the example, David, that putting more people into Medicaid was no different than putting more people on the Titanic knowing how that was going to end up.  I mean, it truly is a place that is going to bankrupt your state if you participate in that.

Think about what’ll happen when the case loads explode.  It will be a massive disaster across this Texas.  I mean, across this country.  Excuse me.  And we are our own country, so to speak.  (laughter) We have a marketing campaign, David, that’s called Texas:  A Whole Other Country.  (laughter)  And some people get disturbed about that.  But it’s a fun thing.  So.

But anyway, I want to share with you in wrapping up what fiscally conservative, thoughtful policies, what having freedom, for me, and I think freedom for our founding fathers was about freedom from over taxation, freedom from over regulation, freedom from over litigation.

That’s the pillars of a powerful economy.  For a little over a decade now we have put those into place in this state.  And let me share with you one of the byproducts that’s powerful.  And I want to share it with you in a bit of a – not in an anecdotal way but in just a story that reflects the point.

In 2001, in the spring of 2001 I’d been governor for six months.  And we got the call that one of the great names in the corporate world was considering relocating their corporate headquarters either in Chicago or Dallas-Fort Worth.  Boeing.

Boeing was moving out of the Pacific Northwest.  We became ecstatic.  We gathered up all of our staff and the economic development division, the Department of Economic Development and said, “We must go win this.”

Was only a hundred and – I think 135 jobs total.  But it was just the cache, it was the name of getting Boeing to come to Texas.  What a powerful message that would’ve been.  Well, we made a lot of smoke and not much fire and we found that we weren’t very good at economic development.  And Chicago was the winner.

But we came back and sometimes in defeat is how you become stronger.  I’m hoping that’s the case, anyway, Pat.  (laughter)  Sometimes in defeat it is how you become stronger.  We came back to Austin, Texas, and we analyzed our economic development effort in this state and realized that we weren’t very good at it.  And that we were cumbersome, we were not flexible, we didn’t have the ability to attract, we didn’t have incentive programs.

And that next legislative session in 2003 we created the Texas Enterprise Fund which is an incentive program to be able to lure these companies into the State of Texas.

We collapsed the Department of Economic Development into a trusteed agency and moved it into the governor’s office so it could very quickly move and be flexible without a board to have to go through.  And to work directly with the governor’s office.

We put into place the most sweeping tort reform in the nation during that legislative session and we filled a $10 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes to send the message that we truly were going to be responsive to businessmen and -women and not just say, “Oh, we can’t make the hard decisions.  We’re going to have to raise your taxes.”

And over the course of the next years we stayed, adhered to those principles.  Oh, and as an aside, about a year after that Boeing thing went down, we heard through very well placed sources that one of the reasons, a strong reason that the decision makers at Boeing chose Chicago was because the spouses of the decision makers felt that the cultural arts were more expansive in Chicago to their liking than in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Now, I’m not going to make that argument today whether that’s true or not.  But that was the perception.  And so much in this business perception is reality.  Here’s what I’m going to fast forward with you in just a moment and go to 2011, a short decade later.

In Texas, Fort Worth has built a new museum of modern art.  The Kimbell has expanded greatly.  The Basses have built one of the great symphony halls in the world.  Dallas has finished two performing arts facilities.

The AT&T, the Meyerson.  Nasher moved their sculpture gardens to Dallas.  The American Film Institute now is headquartered in Dallas.  Austin, Texas, the little government and university town, has a new museum of modern art.

They have the ba – the Long Center of Performing Arts.  The Topfers built a new wing onto the Zachary Theater.  San Antonio is building a new performing arts facility.  And Houston tonight has more theater seats available than any other city in America outside of New York City.

That’s happened in a decade.  And it’s happened, I will suggest strongly, because we’ve allowed the private sector to keep more of what they earn.  And they made the right decisions about putting that money into those charitable causes, into the cultural arts.

Today I can assure you as we recruit from New York or from the Silicon Valley or from Illinois.  As a matter of fact, I was in Chicago just ten days ago inviting those people to come.  That our cultural arts today are expansive and they get to keep more of what they work for.

That is a powerful message.  It’s what America needs to be talking about.  We need to have this great discussion across this country about red state policies and blue state policies.  (applause)

And if we do that, if we will stand up and unabashedly and when – courageously stand up and say, “These are the policies that will allow you to live free.  These are the policies that will allow your family to be secure.  This is the way that your family will have a better future.“  We will have an America for the next generation that we are proud of and that truly is a beacon for all the world.

Thank you and God bless you.  (applause)

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