It's always a pleasure to be with the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, which is not just an organization promoting the economic vitality of two important world-wide powers, but also a compact, speaking to the close relationship between our two states.
The Texas-Israeli relationship is one I take every opportunity to make even closer.
Indeed, one of the highlights of a recent trip to Italy for me was a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, where we discussed ways to further solidify our social and business connections.
As everyone here in the chamber knows, with your help this December, our Secretary of State, Hope Andrade, is heading to Tel Aviv to spread the word about Texas as a premier business destination and partner to Israel.
It's a connection that's already solid.
In 2011, Texas exported more than $823 million in products to Israel, an increase of 21 percent over the year prior.
The same year, we imported more than $670 million in Israeli products.
There are at least 15 Israeli companies operating in Texas, with Texas companies having at least six fDi projects based in Israel.
We work hard in Texas to create a climate where employers from around the world can come and invest in new facilities, or enter partnerships with domestic companies, in an effort to improve all our interests.
We've fostered the sort of jobs-friendly business climate where any employer can thrive, and be competitive on a global scale.
That's helped establish Texas as the top exporter in the country, for 10 years running.
This didn't all happen by chance.
More than a decade ago, we set out to create a Texas where people of all industries could confidently invest their capital, and expect to see a solid return on their investment.
And, thanks to our low taxes, get to keep more of that return.
We set out to create a Texas where job-creators could put down roots, relocate or expand, and know they wouldn't be tied up in miles of government red tape and regulations.
We created a Texas where our court system won't allow for over-suing, essentially putting an end to extended, often frivolous lawsuits filed as nothing more than get-rich-quick schemes by predatory attorneys.
And we dedicated ourselves to cultivating a workforce that stands ready to fill any need an employer could have, from the assembly line, to the sales office, to the laboratory.
We're about a decade into those efforts, and I think the results speak for themselves.
fDi Magazine recently awarded Texas the 2012 Governor Award for being the most successful state in the nation at attracting foreign investment, and that publication is far from alone in its praise of the Lone Star State.
Chief Executive Magazine has named Texas the country's "Best State for Business" for the eighth consecutive year, and we're committed to making it nine in a row next year.
Texas has also received accolades from media outlets like USA Today, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Site Selection Magazine.
More importantly than good press, however, Texas continues to be the nation's epicenter for job creation, with our state's employers creating more jobs last month than any other state in the nation, just as we have over the past decade.
What that means is that people in Texas have a better chance at finding a new job, a better job, to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
We're attracting companies from around the country, and around the world.
How have we done it?
It's simple, we've done it by rooting our economy on sound, fiscally conservative principles.
We don't spend more than we bring in, balancing our budget every biennium, and keeping billions in reserve in our Rainy Day Fund.
We have no, and will have no, state income tax, and we're pressing to make 40,000 small businesses permanently exempt from our state's margin tax.
Earlier this year, I proposed the Texas Budget Compact, a collection of five basic steps our legislature should take to ensure we continue adhering to the bedrock principles that have gotten us where we are today.
They are, practice truth-in-budgeting, support a stricter constitutional limit on spending, oppose any new taxes or tax increases, make the small business tax exemption permanent, preserve our strong Rainy Day Fund, and cut wasteful and redundant government programs and agencies.
At the heart of the Compact is the idea that money does a lot more good in the pockets of individuals than it does in government coffers.
The compact has been designed to keep government honest, as small as possible, and as efficient as it can be in providing essential services like educating our children and caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
By sticking to that formula, we can enable employers and employees alike to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, which translates to a stronger economy, and more, and better, jobs.
That's the Texas way, and again, the Texas way is working.
When you think Texas, you probably think spurs and oil wells.
We're proud of that heritage, and our ongoing status as the country's energy leader.
However, the Texas economy has grown and diversified into so much more than that, biotechnology, aerospace and engineering, chemicals and electronics.
In Texas, we have world-class research being conducted and put to work, at our universities, and at any number of startup companies stretching from Houston to El Paso, and all points in between.
A few months ago, in fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Texas A&M University, my alma mater, would be home to a Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, a national center that will rapidly develop and manufacture vaccines and therapies to help secure us from the threat of bio-terrorism and global pandemic.
That just goes to underscore, whether on the cutting edge of biotech, communications, commerce or privatized efforts to serve the needs of the next generation of space explorers, you will find Texas at the forefront of the movement.
Much like Israel, Texas has always been a place that attracts people seeking freedom and success.
Many of the people who originally populated present-day Texas were pursuing their own economic opportunities, while many others were seeking a place where the hand of government would be significantly less obtrusive.
What they all had in common was a dream of a place where they could plant their flag and pursue their own aspirations, a place where they were free to succeed.
And that tradition lives on today.
We realized a long time ago that the best way to help people reach their dreams is to put in place a system that will help them, not hinder them.
We realized that that the best thing we can do, as a government, is to get out of the way and let innovators innovate.
So far, that's been working pretty well.
Taken all together, our efforts have created an economic environment rich with potential for any industry, and any company, seeking to grow, expand and thrive.
The stronger we are across the country, and around the world, the stronger we all are.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great nation of Israel and the great state of Texas.