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 Waco Chamber of Commerce, where he also announced a $350,000 Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) investment in Green Star LED, and a $2.5 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) investment in ViroXis Corp.
"While we certainly are not immune to the global economic crisis, Texas is creating more jobs than the rest of the country thanks to Texas employers, and our state's sound tax, regulatory and education policies," Gov. Perry said. "As Texas faces budget challenges in the upcoming legislative session, we will deal with them head-on with the clear priorities, fiscal discipline and hard work that have made Texas a national jobs and economic force."
Green Star is relocating their headquarters to Boerne, creating 118 jobs and generating $4 million in capital investment in the area. The company manufactures energy efficient LED light fixtures.
The legislature created the TEF in 2003 and re-appropriated funding in 2005, 2007 and 2009 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state's most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business. To date, the TEF has invested more than $411 million and closed the deal on projects generating more than 54,250 new jobs and more than $14.6 billion in capital investment in the state.
ViroXis, a past winner of the Michael Debakey Award as the most promising life science company in Texas, is developing botanically-based therapies for the treatment of viruses in adults and children. The company is working with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center of San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio to develop this treatment.
The TETF is a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005, and reauthorized in 2007 and again in 2009. A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts reviews potential projects and recommends funding allocations to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The TETF is a valuable contributor to the job-friendly environment that has made Texas a national leader in technological development, innovation and job creation. To date, the TETF has allocated more than $179.5 million in funds to 124 early stage companies, and $161 million in grant matching and research superiority funds to Texas universities.
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 America'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 that will provide students who have dropped out the opportunity to earn a high school diploma through 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 get or 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.