Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry: Tort Reform, Budget Restraint Leading to Economic Recovery in Texas

Wednesday, September 24, 2003  •  Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Gov. Rick Perry today said the state’s successful efforts to rein in runaway government spending and pass historic lawsuit abuse reforms have paved the way for job creation and economic recovery.

“The Texas success story can be traced to two historic achievements: Despite a $10 billion deficit, we balanced our budget with no new taxes, and we passed the most sweeping lawsuit reforms in America,” Perry said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation. “Our families and businesses should not have to shoulder additional sacrifices so government doesn’t have to. You can’t create jobs by passing the tax increases that kill jobs.”

The governor noted that state lawmakers had approved a two-year, $117 billion state budget that meets the needs of Texans and includes new tools for job creation. The state budget also reduced general revenue spending for the first time since World War II, while at the same time investing more in education and health care.

Perry also contrasted the Texas record to other states that have raised taxes, raided pension funds and cashed in tobacco bonds, saying, “We didn’t mortgage our future on a mountain of public debt.”

The governor, who has made job creation a cornerstone of his administration, said the state’s aggressive efforts to recruit new businesses and paychecks to the state already are paying off.

“We’re seeing rays of light penetrate the economic storm clouds,” Perry said. “Last month we added more jobs in Texas than any month since May of 2000. While California lost 30,000 jobs, Texas gained 28,500.”

Perry said the sweeping lawsuit reform measures he signed into law this summer would further fuel the state’s economic development efforts.

“We passed into law the most sweeping tort reform measure in the nation,” the governor said. “There is no greater job killer than a legal system run amok. These comprehensive reforms restore balance to our system of justice while maintaining proper protections for Texans who are harmed.”

Perry declared medical malpractice reform an emergency issue for the 78th Texas Legislature in response to a growing medical lawsuit abuse crisis that was hampering Texans’ access to health care. The legislature responded by approving a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages to prevent exorbitant jury awards that drive up malpractice rates. In addition, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages against a single institution and a $500,000 cap on all health-care institutions combined. On Sept. 13, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment in support of the caps set by the legislature.

“We are doing everything we can to make Texas a state attractive for jobs and entrepreneurs, opportunity and prosperity,” Perry said. “We viewed tough economic times as a unique opportunity to build government anew, to reshape priorities and to refocus its mission.”

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