I can't think of a more appropriate person to kick things off than someone who has been a consistent voice for sound fiscal principles.
I'd also like to thank our hosts here at Hot Shot Delivery for having us here today.
Two years ago, as many of the legislators here today can attest, we stood at the brink of a particularly challenging legislative session.
Like any business owner or family anywhere in Texas, in tougher times, we had to make some difficult decisions.
The choices we made, however, helped stabilize our economy, and kept industries hiring in the Lone Star State far faster than anywhere else in the country.
As a result, we led the nation out of recession, and we're building on that success, with Texas adding more jobs last month than any other state.
Our unemployment rate remains well below the national average, even as we continue to attract job-seekers from all across the United States.
Our economic success has also meant sales tax collections are up, steadily posting gains over the past two years.
It's important, however, that we don't interpret higher sales tax collections as a license to spend freely, when it's actually an opportunity to make our budget more sound.
Even if more money is being collected...we have to treat each dollar as respectfully, and carefully, as we ever have.
We have to remember there is no such thing as "extra" money, not when it's coming out of the pockets of taxpayers.
That's why, earlier this year, I proposed the Texas Budget Compact, five effective principles that will lead to an even stronger Texas in the years to come.
Here's the short version, practice truth-in-budgeting, support a stricter constitutional limit on spending, oppose any new taxes or tax increases, preserve a strong Rainy Day Fund, and cut wasteful and redundant government programs and agencies.
Today, I'd like to focus specifically on the need for a stricter constitutional limit on spending.
As a small-government conservative, I believe that government growth, if any, should be kept to the bare minimum.
In fact, I believe in some cases, growing demand can be met by utilizing emerging technologies...and working more efficiently.
Any growth in state spending, however, should be limited, by constitutional amendment, to the rate of our population growth, combined with the rate of inflation.
Rep. Callegari, who is here today, knows about this. He's introduced a bill to do this each of the last two sessions.
The current limit is set by the growth in personal income, which is a much more fluid and generally much larger number.
This amendment would cast a spending limit in clear terms, ensuring we never get in a situation where state spending spirals out of control, the way it has in Washington, D.C.
By keeping tighter reins on these precious taxpayer dollars, we can build a more sound economy, and employ a budgeting process that doesn't put off tough decisions until it's too late to deal with them.
We need to make constitutionally sure the fiscal conservatism that got us to where we are now will continue in the decades to come.
We can't afford to rest on our laurels, and we can't take our success for granted.
We are approaching a 2013 Legislative Session that offers a very clear choice in the direction we'll be going as a state in the years, and decades to come.
It is imperative we remain committed to the sound conservative values that have brought us to where we are today, and take steps to advance us even further.