Thank you, Mayor [Tom Leppert], for that introduction.
When it comes to the business climate here in Dallas, there are big things happening, from corporate expansions, to preparations for Super Bowl 45. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it ends up being a home game for the NFC's representative. It's always a pleasure to be here in the Metroplex, with people who are just as fired up about our state's economic opportunity as I am.
We're all aware of the ongoing global economic troubles, but we also know that Texas is holding up remarkably well. Joblessness continues to undermine our country's recovery, but our unemployment rate is more than a full point below the national average, thanks to the strength of our economy.
We can never forget that those numbers represent Texas families facing real challenges, but the strength of our economy gives them a better chance of re-employment than just about anywhere else.
In fact, Texas employers have added more than 166,000 jobs in 2010, more than any other state in the country, including 14,000 in June. That is a big deal for Texas, and the Metroplex is doing its part to help.Just a couple weeks ago, Forbes listed Dallas-Fort Worth as one of the top cities leading the way out of the recession. I think your group and those like it can take some of the credit, considering all you do to spread the word about the advantages we have over the rest of the country.
As Americans look for the best place to live, work and raise a family, more of them are heading to Texas all the time. As business owners seek relief from growing tax burdens and increasing government interference, they're choosing the Lone Star State as well.
Companies with existing operations in Texas are also investing more, including Samsung, which recently announced a $3.6 billion expansion in their semiconductor plant in Austin. Announcements like that are further proof we're on the right track, reaping the benefits of years of policy decisions, that are job-friendly and fiscally disciplined.
You all might remember the $10 billion deficit our state faced at the start of the legislative session back in 2003. Rather than jack up taxes, we took the same approach you'd take if your business had a shortfall, we drew a line between wants and needs, then cut spending.We won't hesitate to take that approach again.
We also took aim at the frivolous lawsuits hindering job growth, and reducing the availability of medical care across Texas, by passing serious tort reform.
We've made prudent investments in job-creating efforts like the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has invested nearly $397 million, helped create more than 53,000 jobs for Texans, and brought in $14.4 billion in capital investment since it began.
The TEF forms a one-two punch of economic development with the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, which has invested nearly $155 million in early-stage companies throughout Texas, and leveraged an additional $153 million in university and industry investments.
The root cause of our economic success is hardworking Texans , but our pro-job policies, low taxes, predictable regulations and a fair legal system, have helped us lead the nation in job creation. Bottom line, Texas is on a strong run, and the more we talk about it the better.
That's why I jumped at the chance to lead a trade delegation to Asia, visiting cities in China, Taiwan and South Korea. As I spread the good word about the State of Texas, and the incredible opportunity we offer, I heard plenty about that region's growing strength.
I visited some bold companies and met some amazing individuals, who work on the cutting edge of next-generation technology. Talking to these folks affirmed my long-held belief, that our primary competition is no longer other states.
Our children must be ready to compete with the world's best and brightest, because those competitors will be bringing their "A" game. That is why we placed such emphasis on ensuring young Texans, no matter what their economic status, graduate from our high schools career- and college-ready.
Thanks to a concerted effort we've made in conjunction with legislators, the TEA, teachers groups, parents and local districts, we have a very strong story to tell.
For example, we've seen improved TAKS scores in nearly every subject and every grade for the 2008-2009 school year, and recognition for Texas as one of only four states closing the achievement gap in math. On the Advanced Placement test, student participation is up 170% over the last nine years and the number of passing scores went up 140%.
Texas has one of the highest overall numbers of students taking the SAT in the nation, with more first-generation college students taking the exam than the national average.
In addition, the number of Hispanic students taking the SAT has grown by nearly 105% since 1999.
In math, Texas students are beating the national average on the ACT, with scores across all demographics improving every year since "05.
However you measure success, Texas is pointed in the right direction, but I think we need to go farther.
That's why I have called on the Legislature to invest $40 million dollars in doubling the number of our STEM academies, so that even more Texas students are getting the science, technology, math and engineering skills they need, to succeed in those high-tech jobs.
I've also proposed expanding the Texas Virtual School Network, with the creation of a Texas Virtual High School. This approach will build upon existing technology to enable students, to complete their education using accredited curriculum, from any computer with an Internet connection.
With the help of the 82nd Legislature we can continue this collaborative approach to improving education, and keep preparing our young people to take their rightful place in our workforce.
Fortunately, Texas has the strength and the vision to continue our economic leadership, including our lead in Fortune 1000 companies and exports.
It's what Texans do: we lead. I believe an essential part of our leadership ability is the diversity of thought and heritage which combine to form one unique culture. Like our state flag's one star, we are one Texas and one people.
When you boil it down, we all want the same thing, a good education for our children, safe neighborhoods for our families, and the chance to succeed based on our own merit.
We share the core values of family, faith and hard work. These are Texas values, and we need to perpetuate them in our homes, in our schools, and in the voting booth.
As I look out across this room today, I can't tell you how encouraged I am by the state of affairs in Dallas and across Texas.
I am grateful to you for the investment you make in the community, for your efforts to build relationships that create jobs. Your efforts are proof positive that Texas has what it takes to endure tough times and keep its priorities in order no matter what.
I congratulate tonight's award winners, and encourage your peers to pursue the same heights of achievement for the example it sets for the next generation. As we head home, I hope we're energized by this time together, enthused at the opportunities before us, and encouraged by the innovators around us.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.