Thank you, Commissioner Todd Staples, for that introduction.
It's great to have the Legislature back in town, with all hands on deck to tackle some big challenges.
With Senator Duncan and representatives like John Frullo and Charles Perry on the job, we can get a lot done if we focus on the right things.
That "Lubbock Perspective" they bring to the game always helps which is why I recently convinced another Lubbock resident, Marc Farmer, to join the Texas Economic Development Corporation otherwise known as Texas One.
It's great to hear from Lubbock because we all know Lubbock has a lot to say.
Even in a state that's held up considerably better than most of the country during the recession, your region stands out.
With an unemployment rate two plus points below the state average and more than three points below the national average your employers clearly know how to put people to work.
In fact, while the nation has lost millions of jobs since 2007 Lubbock has more private sector jobs today than it did when the recession began three years ago and last year added jobs in sectors as diverse as professional services, manufacturing and energy.
You've done it the Texas way through a clear vision, strategic investment and competing for employers looking to expand or relocate.
There's really no magic formula just determination and hard work.
Texans are well aware that there are no short cuts to easy street.
Our state, it seems, is an island of level headed thinking in a rising sea of red ink that is flowing faster and faster out of Washington DC.
That tide is cresting in places like Illinois, where state leaders just jacked up income taxes to make the short term slightly less painful, at least for the government.
This short sighted approach might make it a little easier for the legislature to balance the books but at what price?
Tax hikes choke innovation and stifle job creation.
In my view, tax hikes are the quickest way to take the legs out from under an economy, especially economies that are just regaining their footing.
Texans know better and they sent a clear message on election night about the direction they want us to take.
The voters told us to balance the budget without raising taxes and to make government even leaner and more efficient.
In short, they want more of what we've done here in Texas over the past decade.
Some of you will remember back in 2003, when we faced another challenging session, the doom and gloom crowd was saying a lot of the same things that we've heard over the last several weeks.
We resisted their pleas to raise taxes and remained dedicated to our time tested principles of fiscal discipline.
Over the past ten years, that resolve yielded an economy that generated more jobs than any other state in the union, has led the nation in exports for eight years running and is home to more Fortune 1000 firms than any other state.
In the last few years, as the ripple effects of the global and national recession began to reach Texas, our sound policies helped us rebound quicker than other states.
Now those policies are helping Texas lead the way to recovery. I want employers everywhere to know that our commitment to the principles that drive our economy is stronger than ever.
We need to keep taxes low so Texas families can keep more of their hard earned money and employers can channel their resources into hiring more people and buying new equipment.
We need to defend our predictable regulatory structure from intrusive federal agencies like the EPA as they threaten our successful air quality programs and the Texas jobs that go with them.
We need to continue the fight against lawsuit abuse because employers aren't doing anybody any good when they're tied up in court fighting junk lawsuits.
I hope the 82nd Legislature will consider improving our important tort protections during this session with even greater accountability, transparency and efficiency.
Victims of frivolous lawsuits shouldn't have to bear the financial burden of defending themselves.
Instead, that responsibility should fall to the individual who brought the suit in the first place.
Texas is one of a very few states who do not currently have an "early dismissal" option for obviously frivolous lawsuits, but we should.
We also need to remain committed to preparing our students for the jobs of the future focusing on subjects like science, technology, engineering and math.
Those jobs are the basic building blocks of our economy and our calling is to fortify that economy.
When times get tight, voices will always call for higher taxes, but that is exactly the wrong approach to take given the burden it places on Texas families and their employers in Lubbock and elsewhere.
Together, we can tighten our belts, make tough choices and keep Texas moving forward as an example to the rest of the nation.
Unlike the folks in Washington, we understand that tax dollars aren't printed somewhere in the capitol basement, they come from the pockets of our citizens and our job is to use them wisely.
With the support of principled leaders like you, and the folks you represent back in Lubbock I'm confident we can reach that goal together.
May God bless you, and through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.