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Gov. Perry Addresses the Texas Association of Builders

Location: Austin, TX

Gov. Perry Addresses the Texas Association of Builders

Thanks builders for their contribution to Texas stronger-than-average economy.
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.

Thank you, Scott [Norman, Executive Director] for that kind introduction. I want to thank you and Ron [Connally, TAB president] for your leadership of a group that does so much to provide Texans places to live.

As I look out across this gathering here today, I see leaders, folks who have worked their way up the ladder, starting on job sites, leading crews, solving problems on the spot. You are people who get things done.

Your companies not only create jobs for Texans, but you create homes for Texans, helping them attain their part of the American dream.

As our state population continues growing by more than 1,000 people per day, and businesses continue looking to Texas for our favorable economic climate, we need to keep building homes for them and their families. Thank goodness we have folks like you around to make that happen.

We all know how tough things are getting in the global economy, but Texas has not experienced the worst of it. The widespread loan defaults, runaway foreclosures and a drop in housing starts have hammered other states, but Texas is doing better.

As of last month, foreclosure rates were still pretty ugly. In Nevada, one in every 76 mortgages foreclosed while California had one in every 173. In Texas, our rate was one in every 967.

New home starts are stronger in Texas too. Builder Magazine recently said that there is more home building activity in the Austin metro area than in Chicago, which has 6 times more people.That same magazine also ranked the healthiest housing markets in the country and the top five cities were all in Texas.

So, Texas is a good place to be a builder, a realtor and a homeowner, because Texas is a good place to own, move or expand a business. Maybe that's why 30% of all Americans who moved from one state to another between 2007 and 2008 moved to Texas.

By keeping our taxes down, holding government spending in check and reforming our legal system for greater fairness, we have created a climate that encourages employers and welcomes their jobs.

As a result, Texas leads the nation in Fortune 500 companies, exports and job creation. For example, roughly 80% of the jobs created in the United States from December '07 to December '08 were in Texas. That represents about 153,600 more Texans working to pay their bills and feed their families.

Our state has done well, but you know as well as I do that things are tightening up, but I'd rather be in Texas than anywhere else, and so would most employers.

In the months to come, I believe that our economy, our workforce and our affordable quality of life will continue to draw jobs, capital investment and great ideas to Texas.

In just the past few months, we have seen big companies survey their nationwide operations, assess the business climates at their diverse locations, then move jobs to Texas. Two weeks ago, USAA announced 1,000 jobs coming to San Antonio.

I will not be surprised if more companies follow their lead, but we can't sit back and hope that happens, we need to make it happen.

For example, we need to make sure our regulations do their job without choking companies to death, with conditions that are completely out of date, or the requirement to spend more time filling out forms than leading your people.

We also need to make sure our state's infrastructure can accommodate all the folks that are moving here each day. I know you'll do your part to build homes for the new arrivals, but your government needs to make sure we're providing for the roads, power transmission and water they'll need.

Building that infrastructure will go more smoothly if the Legislature will nail down our state's position on eminent domain once and for all.

In 2005, Senate Bill 7 made it clear that Texans won't tolerate having their land taken and given to another private party. In 2007, I wanted more protection for property owners, but the bill that reached my desk had been so loaded up with changes that it would have done more harm than good.

I think it's time to resolve the eminent domain issue by passing a constitutional amendment.

At the same time, we need to pass laws that protect landowners from other abuses of eminent domain.

For example, government shouldn't use eminent domain to take someone's land without making an honest effort to buy it first. It's wrong for any government to make a lowball offer, then respond to an owner's righteous refusal by taking the land.

Landowners should also be allowed to buy back land when it isn't used for the project it was taken for, and buy it for the price the government paid for it, not its value on today's market. That increase in value belongs to the landowner, not the government, and the landowner shouldn't have to pay extra to get it back.

We also need to keep our taxes down and hold the line on the growth of government spending. This is clearly not the approach the federal government is taking. I'm betting your company isn't in line for a multi-billion dollar bailout any time soon.

So you have to work harder and smarter than the other guy, to get the business you need to pay your bills, create jobs, and feed your families. In tough times, you have to make tough choices and so should your government.

I am committed to working with our legislators to keep Texas living within its means, continuing our adherence to proven fiscal principles, and making tough choices. It may not be the most popular choice, but it is the wisest one, that will keep Texas strong in the months and years to come.

Thank you all for your passion, your principled leadership of your companies and your engagement in these vital issues.

May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.

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