Thank you all for being here.
We've come a long way this session, and, as we stand here today, we've got a little further to go.
The special session, however, is going to be about putting the finishing touches on what's already been a truly historic legislative session.
We've passed a budget that cuts spending in Texas while maintaining essential services, keeping taxes low and preserving more than $6 billion in emergency funding that'll be on hand if the national economy continues to slump or if we face a major natural disaster.
By balancing our budget without raising taxes, Texas once again will stand in stark contrast to states that choose to burden their residents with higher taxes and onerous regulatory mandates.
We're doing it exactly the way we said we would by prioritizing, cutting spending, and tightening our belts.
In the end, we're following the clear directions laid out by the voters of Texas, who told us, in no uncertain terms last November, that they wanted a leaner, more efficient state government with no new taxes.
Thanks to the leadership of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, we're prepared to deliver just that.
If all we do is hold the line on taxes, if all we do is balance a budget exclusively by cutting spending, I think that would represent a pretty amazing accomplishment.
However, the 82nd Legislature has been about a great deal more.
We passed a "loser pays" component to our legal system that allows judges to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits and serves notice on those seeking to hit a "home run" in a trial case that they can be on the hook for their opponents' legal fees if they come up short.
New eminent domain reforms were passed into law ensuring property owners get a fair deal when they're negotiating their property's sale, and that an owner can buy back their property at the same price they were paid for it, if the property goes unused.
Also passed was a bill requiring voters to present photo identification before casting their ballot preserving the integrity of our voting process and the value of our most essential civic right.
I was proud to sign legislation requiring anyone seeking an abortion be required to have a sonogram, ensuring that she has all the facts, and understands the full impact of the life-altering decision she is making.
And the Legislature passed, and I signed, important new laws that will combat the modern-day slave trade of human trafficking, giving prosecutors new tools to convict these criminals and added ability to send them away for a long, long time.
Those are just a few of the more notable accomplishments of this session among the many steps we've taken to place Texas on the path to even greater prosperity in the years to come.
I look forward to lawmakers taking quick action on the few, but important issues remaining before them.