Thank you, Renee Flores and thank you for having me here today.
I want to thank the Texas Public Policy Foundation for putting this event together and express my gratitude to the sponsors TexasOne the National Federation of Independent Business and Texans for Taxpayer Relief.
Represented in that bunch, you essentially have a representation of the key elements that have made our state economy so competitive.
Think about it. You have TPPF that helps wrangle out the details of fiscally disciplined public policy combined with Texans for Taxpayer Relief advocating for the low taxes that set us apart add TexasOne, recruiting new jobs to the state and NFIB representing the folks creating new jobs.
That's a recipe for success in my book, and it is helping us repeatedly beat out other states for jobs and investment including our friends in California. The principles those groups represent help answer some key questions.
Like, why does Texas lead the nation in job creation and how has it done so for the past ten years?
How does Texas export more than any other state and play host to more Fortune 1000 companies than anyone else?
Why did more California businesses 153 of them move to Texas than any other state between January and August of this year?
Why has Texas succeeded at economic development and Washington failed so badly?
As I see it, the disconnect between Texas and Washington DC is not merely a matter of physical distance but, instead, a result of two markedly different cultures and opposing views on the role of government.
Like you, I prefer my government smaller and less intrusive
Like so many of my fellow Texans, I have been appalled at the unchecked expansion of the federal government and its boldness when it comes to spending, intruding on the lives of our citizens and accumulating debt at an unprecedented rate.
Somehow, somewhere, folks in Washington DC decided that the government should be all things to all people and the final arbiter on just about every critical decision that a person might be called upon to make.
The impact of that approach has not been the nationwide economic nirvana expected by far too many but widespread uncertainty.
Assuming they ever grasped the concept in the first place our leaders in Washington seem to have lost touch with the fact that people who create jobs are human beings with hopes and dreams balanced by their concerns and fears.
Employers considering expanding their facilities or employee base want to know the government isn't going to jerk the rug out from under their feet with surprise changes to regulations or more taxes.
Here in Texas, we have made our economy more competitive by following four simple rules.
First, we don't spend all the money, so we have a balanced budget and billions of dollars set aside for a rainy day.
Second, we have established a regulatory climate that is predictable, so that employers know what to expect when they're risking their capital.
Third, we reformed our legal system to cut down on over suing which has improved access to healthcare all across our state.
Fourth, we have worked to create an accountable school system that is better preparing our children to compete in the workforce.
Because these simple principles emphasize the balance between personal freedom and responsibility they work and, best of all, they put people to work.
Our approach has helped keep our unemployment rate more than a full point below the national average the lowest among the nation's ten largest states.
Our approach was validated yet again when CNBC declared Texas the nation's best state for business.
This report you're getting today again demonstrates the advantages of our refusal to adopt a state income tax and how that puts California at a competitive disadvantage.
I'm told that Washington State is also considering a state income tax.
If voters in Washington State are listening, please vote for the income tax so my team and I can book our travel and visit with Washington employers reminding them that that Texas is still wide open for business.
Now, hard working Texans get the majority credit for our success but our hardworking Legislators have gone the extra mile making the tough choices that lead to balanced budgets.
While estimates of the Texas budget picture are swinging wildly in the press, we know that we'll have a challenge on our hands come 2011.
However, our leaders have been through this process before when the Legislature "gaveled in" back in 2003 and found a $10 billion budget shortfall staring them in the face.
Rather than panic and raise taxes, or just spend ourselves into a Washington style hole we simply did what families and businesses do when their revenues fall below their planned spending we set priorities and used them to make choices.
Not only did we cut spending in multiple areas, we actually increased spending on key priorities like education.
At the same time, we created a key contributor to our economic growth, the Texas Enterprise Fund which was designed to get companies over the tipping point to choose Texas for their job creation.
Since the Fund was created, it has helped secure more than 53,600 new Texas jobs and $14.4 billion in capital investment that could have gone elsewhere.
That includes the 350 jobs and $17.6 million that Healthcare Management Systems announced for Texas at the end of last month.
Just two years after that, we created the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, which helps early stage tech companies sustain their forward momentum with strategic investments.
Since 2005, the ETF has invested more than $173 million in 120 early stage companies along with $161 million in research grants to Texas universities.
We are not just making companies with the ETF we're commercializing cures for heart disease and cancer and making energy more renewable, more reliable, and cheaper for all Texans.
At the same time that we are stoking the furnace of our state's innovative economic engine creating new materials for semiconductor manufacturing and pioneering products that will keep our military and law enforcement safer.
Each of those investments strengthens Texas moving us closer to being the undisputed leader in an increasingly high tech economy.
Back in 2003, when we chose the cost cutting route to keep our finances in balance we proved that the perpetual growth of government is not some irrefutable law of nature.
Instead, we showed that government still works for the people and can be shaped and altered to suit their needs not the other way around like Washington does.
As Washington continues to spend and borrow with abandon the people of our country are gearing up to send a message when they go to the polls in 22 days or next Monday, if you believe, as I do, in early voting.
The pain in their wallets, the health insurance mandates and the pile of debt that has grown to the point of blotting out the sun are jolting people awake and spurring them to find a better way.
I'd prefer to call it the Texas way, but it is, quite honestly, the American way, espoused by our Founding Fathers of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
When they crafted the Bill of Rights, I sincerely believe our Founding Fathers included the 10th Amendment on purpose because they had seen what happens when a distant, centralized government runs amok.
I believe they knew that human nature would ultimately clash with the noble precepts which they had learned under great duress.
So the Constitution they crafted constrains the federal government and limits those flawed elements of the human character that hunger for unrestrained power.
Over the past several years, as I've watched the federal government expand like a fat tick engorged with our tax dollars I have grown in my appreciation for the 10th Amendment and its simple wisdom.
As I read them, their words are clear and concise "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
I believe their words were penned for such a time as this and that sensible citizens should learn the 10th Amendment and understand the restraint that it should place on the federal government but seemingly can't.
In my view, the federal government's deliberate disregard of the 10th Amendment pushes us backward down a slippery slope where all precepts of the Bill of Rights could end up compromised and the essence of our republic lost forever along with our God given freedoms.
I would much rather the federal government embrace the competitive nature of the Tenth Amendment the kind of competition that brings out the best in people teams, companies and governments.
Who knows? Maybe conversations like these and some vocal advocacy on your parts could persuade our nation's decision makers to take another look our success in Texas and adopt Texas style fiscal discipline.
That approach would be excruciating for the Washington establishment and result in more than a few prize oxen being gored but setting priorities and sticking to them is a key responsibility of fiscally disciplined leadership.
However painful, such an approach would reverse the slide and put America back on track to its competitive position in the global economy.
Here in Texas, we'll continue to embrace those precepts and keep on cultivating a climate of freedom as we defend our citizens, their livelihoods and their future.
God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.