Gov. Perry: A New Era of Possibility
Throughout my twenty years in public service I have never been more optimistic about the future of Texas. I believe that Texas today stands at the brink of a new era of possibility – one full of promise and prosperity if we make wise investments in good jobs and great schools during this session of the legislature.
An educated workforce is vital to our long term economic health. This legislative session offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our education system in Texas and make sure children of every background have the best teachers, the best curriculum and the best chance to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow.
For ten years we have made great strides in education by raising standards, improving accountability and increasing school funding by $7 billion. Our challenge now is to go from good to great by empowering children of modest means to live unlimited dreams.
How much money we spend on education is important, but not nearly as important as how the money is spent. I want to dedicate new money to education in a way that draws the very best from our teachers and students, so that we not only provide more money for education, but get more education for our money.
I want to attract our best and brightest teachers to our toughest learning environments by providing salary incentives as high as $7,500 a year.
We should provide meaningful incentives for campuses that serve large numbers of economically disadvantaged children, and reward schools that inspire students to take the hardest course of study.
We should establish emergency “turn-around teams” to help improve management at chronically failing schools and provide teachers with the mentoring support they need.
But if bad schools refuse to change they must be shut down and begin again with new leadership, because we simply cannot sentence our children to a lifetime of mediocrity through a state-sponsored policy of passive indifference.
This session also presents us with the opportunity to modernize our tax system, eliminate inequities and create greater tax fairness without a greater tax burden for Texas families.
In addition to providing hardworking Texans significant property tax relief, we must also cap property appraisals that cause tax bills to go up even when tax rates go down. And a new “Truth in Taxation” initiative that requires local elected officials to vote on whether to keep extra revenue generated by appraisal growth can help put a stop to taxation by valuation.
In order to get better results in our schools, we need more transparency in school budgeting. I want taxpayers to be provided with detailed information on how local school dollars are spent.
As we look to lower property taxes and develop a new method of paying for our schools, it is vitally important that we not harm the jobs that are the engine of growth in Texas.
Last session, when the state faced a $10 billion shortfall, lawmakers made the right decision to protect our job climate by holding the line on taxes, passing sweeping lawsuit reforms and establishing a new job creation tool called the Texas Enterprise Fund. These investments have helped Texas add 162,000 new jobs since September 2003, and go from a record budget deficit to a surplus in just two years.
That’s why we must not only invest in specific job creation projects through the Texas Enterprise Fund, we must invest in the foundation of the future economy with a new Emerging Technology Fund that will make our state a global leader in high-tech fields.
In this legislative session, we must not retreat on the principle behind our prosperity – fiscal responsibility. We did not tax and spend our way to a surplus, and we need not tax and spend our way to future shortfalls. Our challenge is to make sound, strategic investments that stand the test of time.
A new era of possibility awaits us – one full of promise and prosperity if we invest in our children, and the opportunities worthy of their future. I have every confidence that we will seize the moment and build a Texas of unlimited possibility.
Governor's Initiatives »