Gov. Rick Perry today attributed the strength of the Texas economy to low taxes, a reasonable and predictable regulatory climate and an educated workforce, which together have helped Texas employers lead the nation in job creation. The governor spoke at a luncheon for the Greater Houston Partnership.
"Having weathered the recent global recession better than any other state, Texas' economy is still creating jobs," Gov. Perry said. "As Texas faces budget challenges in the upcoming legislative session, we will face them head-on with the clear priorities, fiscal discipline and hard work that have made Texas a national jobs and economic force."
Texas' economy continues to receive national attention. Meredith Whitney, a noted analyst who accurately predicted the national banking crisis, recently listed Texas as the national leader in state financial health in her report about the perilous condition of most state governments. Of the 15 largest states, only Texas and Virginia earned overall positive rankings.
National Journal and The Atlantic recently named Texas the leading state for the national economic recovery. In July, CNBC named Texas the nation's Top State for Business. Texas was also recently named the "Best State to Do Business" by CEO Magazine for the sixth year in a row, and four of Texas' metro areas were listed as "America's Recovery Capitals" by Forbes and Moody's Economy.
No other state is home to more Fortune 1000 companies, and Texas is the nation's leading exporting state for the eighth consecutive year. Texas created more jobs than any other state in the nation not only since the beginning of 2010, but also over the last 10 years.
At the luncheon, the governor also discussed several initiatives that he has previously outlined for the 2011 legislative session, including:
* A $160 million expansion of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, increasing the number and scope of T-STEM Academies and funding STEM scholarships to help ensure students receive a competitive education in these subjects.
* Expansion of the Virtual School Network (VSN) to create the Texas Virtual High School, which will provide students who have dropped out the opportunity to earn a high school diploma through rigorous virtual courses, while improving access to high-quality courses for all students.
* Requiring high school students to be enrolled in school or working toward a GED to be eligible to keep a Texas driver license.
* Providing a tax incentive to employers who grant their employees two hours a week of paid time off to return to school or study for their GED. Once the employees have received their diploma or GED, the employer is eligible to receive $1,500 per student in credit toward sales tax liability.
* Creating a tougher law to punish human traffickers, with penalties ranging from 25 years to life, by creating a new 3g offense in the penal code for Continuous Human Trafficking. Punishable with a term of life or 25-99 years imprisonment, the offense would apply to those who commit two or more acts of human trafficking during a period of more than 30 days. A 3g offense requires the trafficker to remain in prison longer before becoming eligible for parole.