Gov. Perry Speaks at Construction Expo
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thank you, Tyler [Bryant, Construction Expo] and welcome to Austin.
As I look out across this gathering here today, I see the sort of hardworking people who have made our state great, folks who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, their boots muddy and their faces sunburned, as you build the facilities and infrastructure that keep our economy rolling.
At the same time, you create jobs for Texans, something that we happen to do better than just about every other state.
Did you know that only ten states had job growth last year? Nearly 60% of the new American jobs were in Texas?
I don't know about you, but I think that's a big deal. I'm proud that we picked up more than 93,000 jobs in that timeframe.
As we've added jobs, we've continued to add Texans, at the rate of about 1,000 per day.
Those new Texans bring a lot to the table, and they need roads to drive on, homes to live in, and offices where they can work. That's where you come in and I'm grateful for the great job you do.
We all know how things are still tough in the global economy, but Texas has not experienced the worst of it, because our economy is stronger than most, and we're still working to make it stronger.
The widespread loan defaults, runaway foreclosures and a drop in housing starts have hammered other states, but Texas is doing better.
As of last month, foreclosure rates were still pretty ugly. In Nevada, one in every 64 mortgages foreclosed while California had one in every 144. In Texas, our rate was one in every 961.
New home starts are stronger in Texas too.
Builder Magazine recently said that there is more home building activity in the Austin metro area than in Chicago, which has 6 times more people. That same magazine also ranked the healthiest housing markets in the country and the top five cities were all in Texas.
So, Texas is a good place to be a builder, a realtor and a homeowner, because it's the best place to own, move or expand a business.
Maybe that's why 20% of all Americans who moved from one state to another in 2008 moved to Texas.
By keeping our taxes down, holding government spending in check and reforming our legal system for greater fairness, we have created a climate that encourages employers and welcomes their jobs.
As a result, Texas leads the nation in Fortune 500 companies, exports and job creation.
Our state has done well, but you know as well as I do that things are still tight, but I'd rather be in Texas than anywhere else, and so would most employers. In the months to come, I believe that our economy, our workforce and our affordable quality of life will continue to draw jobs, capital investment and great ideas to Texas.
Just this year, we have seen employers survey their nationwide operations, assess the business climates at their diverse locations, then move jobs to Texas.
At the beginning of this year, USAA announced 1,000 jobs coming to San Antonio, Caterpillar is consolidating their worldwide engine manufacture and testing operations in Texas, bringing more than 1,700 jobs to Seguin, and a company named Medtronic will employ nearly 1,400 in San Antonio, manufacturing a lifesaving artificial pancreas.
I will not be surprised if more companies follow their lead, but we can't sit back and hope that happens, we need to make it happen. Fortunately, the legislative session that just wrapped up is going to keep our state rolling in the right direction, protecting freedoms, competing for investment, and creating jobs.
A lot of my fellow governors would probably trade just about anything for our balanced budget, our increased funding for education, and a Rainy Day Fund that is projected to grow to $9 billion by 2011.
Your legislators also passed a key measure that increases protections for private property rights, building a firewall against the Supreme Court's Kelo decision.
I'm also proud that they granted my request for a tax cut on small businesses.
I'm guessing some of you might own or work for one of the 40,000 Texas small businesses that won't have to pay the business tax, since we raised the annual revenue exemption to $1 million. Your legislators also bumped up our state's investment in the Skills Development Fund, by $30 million, making it easier for companies like yours to get workers properly trained in the skills needed to succeed.
These are just a few accomplishments in a session that I believe history will regard as great for Texas.
They reflect the disciplined approach we have taken to governing Texas over the past nine years, cutting taxes, and holding the line on the growth of government spending, so that government remains a servant of the people, and not the other way around.
This is clearly not the approach the federal government is taking.
I'm betting your company isn't in line for a multi-billion dollar bailout any time soon.
So you have to work harder and smarter than the other guy, to get the business you need to pay your bills, create jobs, and feed your families.
Fortunately, our legislators made tough choices that will keep Texas living within its means, and on track to lead our nation out of its current economic challenges.
Tomorrow, we'll kick off a special session to make sure a few key agencies like TXDOT don't go away, while working to give TXDOT the means to not only finance upcoming transportation projects, but also design, build and maintain them through comprehensive development agreements.
These are the essential things that government is supposed to do, and we'll keep doing them to keep our economy growing.
Until every Texan who wants a job has a job, our work will not be done. Thank you all for your hard work that makes our state the envy of a nation.
Thank you for tackling the challenges we all face in these tight economic times.
Thank you for mixing your sweat with the mortar of our state, strengthening us to handle any challenge that comes our way.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.