Thank you Governor Dewhurst it's great to see you again at the helm of this distinguished body.
It's my honor, and my pleasure, to be with you all again today at the commencement of a historic legislative session.
As we begin, it's fitting to reflect for a moment on the shootings Saturday in Arizona and continue praying for those forever affected by this senseless tragedy.
Incidents like that one provide a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of making one's mark on the world every single day.
As elected leaders, we're called to make an even bigger mark.
The decisions we make shape economies affect employers and touch the lives of all Texans.
The actions we take can make the difference between success and failure for people in all walks of life all across this state.
Now I'll be speaking to the House in a little bit and I expect to see a whole lot of new faces over there which is a nice balance with the more "seasoned" group here.
I know a thing or two about being "well-seasoned" and it ain't all bad.
Whether you're a newcomer or an old hand we all heard the message Texans sent us on Election Day.
They expect us to balance this budget without taking more money from employers and working families.
They want state government leaner and more efficient.
I'm confident we will heed that message.
Many of you can attest that we've handled similar challenges before in the not too distant past.
In 2003, we heard the same doom and gloom about the budget from many of the same sources.
2003 was no cakewalk, but we balanced that budget and set the stage for our state's job creation and economic success throughout the rest of the decade.
That growth helped us weather the recent economic storms in better condition than anywhere else in the country.
As we did in "ought-three", we'll balance the budget this time, too by setting priorities and making tough choices not by raising taxes.
Together, we can make government work leaner and smarter and set the stage for Texas to emerge even stronger in job creation and educational achievement in public safety and quality of life.
While the budget is our top responsibility, there are other pressing issues that have waited too long already.
That's why I'm declaring emergency items for the upcoming session starting with the pressing need for tougher eminent domain laws.
Property ownership remains an essential freedom for Texans and we must continue our efforts to properly protect it.
I've been working with Senator Estes & Representative Geren and other stakeholders on this issue for years and we agree that their bill will resolve the key issues of eminent domain in Texas for now and the future.
Next, we must abolish sanctuary city rules and free up our peace officers to do their job keeping our families and neighborhoods safe.
Immigration laws and their enforcement are the responsibility of the federal government we cannot compound their failure by preventing Texas peace officers from doing their jobs.
We must empower officers to apply their training, experience and judgment to enforcing the laws by keeping municipalities from tying their hands.
These are just a few of the issues we'll address in the next 140 days but they merit our closest attention as they relate to the safety and security of our citizens and, most of all, their liberty.
I look forward to working with Governor Dewhurst and each of you in doing the people's business over the next 140 days.
Will that work be easy? Probably not.
Will there be disagreements within this building? I'd call that the safest bet in town.
At the end of the day, though, I'm certain you'll work together in the best interest of our state and merit the faith placed in you by the millions of Texans who put you here.
May God bless you, and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.