Thank you, Rep. [Aaron] Pena for that introduction, and for all your hard work in the legislature this year.
Those of you from out of town might not be aware that we're putting the finishing touches on a special session of our legislature, and Rep. Pena and his fellow legislators have been putting in some overtime.
But then, Texas is all about putting people to work, and Texans aren't shy about rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done.
If you are from out of state, welcome to the job creation capital of the United States.
You might've heard Texans have a tendency to brag; I'm here to tell you that you heard right.
You might've also heard it ain't bragging if it's true, and, by any definition, Texas fits the bill.
From 2001 to 2011, Texas generated more jobs than any other state with more than 730,000 private-sector jobs created here.
The next-best state managed to create just a little over 90,000 during that same span, which was also a time when the nation, as a whole, lost more than 2 million.
When people from around the country ask us the secret of our success, it's easier to get me started than to get me to finish.
But it always starts at the same place with hardworking Texans.
Our state's workforce can fill any role needed by any company no matter how demanding and no matter how high-tech those jobs might be.
We do what we can to maintain an economic climate that attracts businesses and industries seeking to expand or relocate by keeping taxes low, keeping regulations fair and predictable and maintaining a court system that doesn't allow for oversuing.
However, it's the rank-and-file Texans that truly drive our state's prosperity in companies large and small and in big cities and small towns.
We may come from a variety of backgrounds, but we're united in a common spirit to make a better life for ourselves and our families.
Texas has always been a unique place where people from all over the world come to pursue their dreams.
According to the most recent census, we welcomed more than 4 million new Texans during the previous decade.
That's helped create a unique culture, a diverse mix of thought and heritage, that's just a little bit different from anywhere else.
It's a culture that emphasizes good schools for our children, safe neighborhoods for our families and a fair chance to succeed based on our own merit.
In Texas, wits, work ethic and character can take you wherever you want to go.
It doesn't matter who your parents are or how your last name is spelled.
That's true if you're from the Valley south of here, whether you grew up as part of a shrimping family along the Gulf Coast or even if you were raised the son of tenant farmers in a tiny West Texas town you've never heard of, like I was.
No matter who you are growing up in Texas, no matter your race, creed or heritage, you have a role model to look up to - someone who proves that any obstacle can be overcome, that there are no limits on how far you can go.
That's especially true for Hispanic children in Texas; indeed, it has to be.
Roughly a third of our citizens identify themselves as Hispanic, making them part of what will be our state's largest demographic group within this decade.
It's no stretch to suggest the future of Texas is tied directly to the future of our Hispanic population.
During my time as governor, I have worked to appoint the best, most qualified individuals to leadership roles across the state, including our first Latina Secretary of State, Hope Andrade, our first Latina on the Supreme Court, Justice Eva Guzman, and our first Latina on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Justice Elsa Alcala.
Young Hispanics in Texas can aspire to be the next Rolando Pablos, who chairs our Racing Commission, Roberto DeHoyos, who heads up the Texas Enterprise Fund and Jose Cuevas at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
These leaders, and so many more in our public and private sectors, make me proud to be a Texan and optimistic about our future.
Indications are that our younger generation is getting the message about their opportunities and are heading to school in pursuit of those opportunities in record numbers.
Between 2000 and 2010, Hispanic enrollment in Texas universities increased 88 percent compared to a 48 percent increase overall.
Over that same time frame, the amount of bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and certificates earned by Hispanic students increased more than 102 percent.
Hispanic-owned businesses have also been experiencing explosive growth, their numbers expanding by 40 percent during the previous decade and, according to one study, generating $62 billion in revenue in 2007.
That same study indicated Hispanic-owned businesses employed almost 400,000 Texans that year.
The sky's truly the limit for these students, these businesses and for all Texans, as long as we adhere to the values that got us where we are today.
Again, I appreciate you all having me here.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the Great State of Texas and this nation that we love so much.