Dec. 19, 2003
"We Did What We Set Out to Do."
Governor Rick Perry
Texas legislators headed to the capitol in January faced with a $10 billion revenue shortfall, a turbulent homeowners insurance market, skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance rates driving doctors out of business, and grim economic predictions of a continuing recession.
By year's end, the Texas legislature had accomplished what no other major state could: a balanced budget that did not raise taxes, and a spending plan that for the first time since World War II spends less general revenue dollars than the previous year. "We viewed tough economic times as a unique opportunity to build government anew, to reshape priorities and to refocus its mission," Perry said in September in a speech to the Heritage Foundation.
Governor Perry cited as major achievements of 2003 the new economic development tools such as the Texas Enterprise Fund that are already paying dividends to Texans in the form of new jobs and new opportunities and education advancements like the Texas High School Project that have laid the groundwork for true education reform next year.
Additionally, national opinion leaders sat up and took notice of the legislative efforts led by Governor Perry with the Wall Street Journal opining on Texas lawsuit reforms, "Texas not only provides an example for other states but also for Republicans in Congress," the newspaper continued. "The lesson is how the right leadership on an issue can change the political climate. Republican in Washington, and especially in the filibustering Senate, need to display the same will as their state counterparts."
In October, the Wall Street Journal said Arnold Schwarzenegger could look to Perry and the Texas experience for models in successful governance. The editorial cited Perry's cost-saving efforts to pared a billion dollars of the state's health care agency by consolidating its bureaucracy and similar "surgery on the state's sprawling education bureaucracy."
Steve Forbes, economist and publisher of Forbes magazine, saluted Perry's leadership on tort reform and budget matters in a September column, calling Perry a "no-nonsense, get-it-done governor." "Thankfully for Texans and the U.S. economy, this governor means business," Forbes wrote.
2003 also closed with economic news that Texas is experiencing economic growth, and the outlook for 2004 looks promising. Governor Perry has attended job announcements all across Texas that will lead to more than 11,000 new jobs because of employer expansions and relocations.
"More economic growth means more jobs and more money for education and health care priorities in the years to come. As 2003 comes to a close Texas is in much better shape then it was when the year began," added Perry. "We set priorities and goals and we worked hard to achieve them. We did what we set out to do."