Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Hispanic Alliance for Progress

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thursday, March 31, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, Jacob (Monty).  And let me also thank your two co-chairs for this important event... Patricia Diaz-Dennis and Ted Cruz. 

It is an honor to be here with so many men and women who are working to build a future of unlimited opportunity for all our people.

To those of you who don’t know much about me, I grew up in a little West Texas farming community called Paint Creek. 

It was small and close-knit, but diverse too. 

And by diverse I mean you could raise cotton, or cows... your choice.

Growing up there forever impacted my life. 

We weren’t rich in worldly goods, but wealthy in spirit... abundant in faith... and strong in our sense of community.

The values I learned on the farm are the same ones that guide me today...
...and they are the same ones held dear by millions of Hispanic Texans: 
...hard work before leisure...
...family and community before self...
...and faith and freedom before all of those things. 
I am proud to be governor of a state that is one of the most diverse in the nation...
...a microcosm for the great melting pot that is the United States.

Texas is home to some 22 million people who trace their roots to every corner of the globe...
...including more than 7 million Hispanic Texans. 

Our culture is enriched...
...and our entire state blessed...
...by this diversity of traditions and heritages.

And though we Texans are a diverse group...
...we all are one people...
...united under the one star of the Texas flag.

We all share common hopes for good jobs, great schools and strong families. 

And we all share a common dream:... to leave our children with a world that is better than the one we live in today.

In this session of the Texas legislature we have the opportunity to address something that is essential to that dream...
...and that is reforming public education.

In the debate about education, there always seem to be a lot of folks who only want to talk about how we should fund our schools...
...and how much we should spend.

But to me this debate is about much more than dollars and cents...
...it is about providing a quality education for every child regardless of where they come from...
...the sound of their last name...
...or the heritage of their family.

How much we spend to achieve that goal is important.  How we spend it is most important.

I support additional dollars for our schools. 

But I believe that if taxpayers provide more money for education...
...they should also be able to demand more education for their money.

We can get more education for our money by making excellence the goal of every classroom...
...and changing the focus from minimum standards to maximum achievement.


And we should concentrate our efforts where they are needed most:...
...in schools where we have large numbers of economically disadvantaged students...
...where graduation rates are low...
...and where too few children graduate prepared for college and success in life.

Texas is home to more than 600,000 students with limited proficiency in English...
...many of whom show up for class several grades behind. 

We must dedicate new resources and our best teachers to this challenge so that every student has the language skills needed to succeed in other subjects like science and history.

When we improve opportunities for disadvantaged students...
...the circle of success widens. 

That is exactly what is happening with the Texas High School Initiative...
...a partnership between the state and the Dell and Gates Foundations that is providing $130 million to help at-risk students achieve the goal of a high school diploma.

With wise investments...
...and with the right incentives...
...we can narrow the achievement gap in our schools before it becomes an opportunity gap in the workplace.

At the halfway point of this session, I am encouraged by the progress we have made on education reform.

We are focusing on student achievement so more children are prepared for college...
...looking at improving teacher compensation and creating new incentives to attract the best and brightest teachers...
...and bringing more transparency to school budgeting so parents know how much of their money makes it to the classroom...
...and how much is spent on administration.

While we still have a little way to go in devising a final plan that we can all agree on, we are moving steadily towards the finish line...
...and closer to a system of education that prepares every child to access the opportunities of tomorrow.

We also have our eyes firmly fixed on the goal of real and lasting property tax relief.  Let me be clear: you can’t truly cut property taxes unless you truly control appraisals.

And for all the rhetoric that appraisal caps help higher end homes more, the fact of the matter is appraisal caps help people in the middle class most because appraisal relief can be the difference between keeping their home or selling it.

Last year I was at the home of Charles and Virginia Chavez in San Antonio.  Without any major improvements, the value of their home climbed from $90,600 to $98,600. 

Their retired neighbors that I met that day…
…Charles and Dorris Whatley…
…were worried they would have to sell their home because they lived on a fixed income and their property taxes were rising at a much faster rate than their Social Security payments.

These Texans are representative of millions of property taxpayers who are frustrated by taxation by valuation.

If we cut property tax rates without reducing the growth in appraisal, property tax cuts will vanish in a few short years…
…just as they did after the 1997 and 1999 tax cuts.


It’s time to make sure working families can keep their home…
…it’s time to end appraisal creep…
…it’s time to give them the property tax relief they deserve.

(long pause)

Creating opportunity means we must not only control taxes…we must redouble our efforts to create jobs in every part of the state. 

Good jobs can lift working families out of poverty...
...renew their hope in the American dream...
...and expand the horizons of opportunity for their children.

Texas is proud to have 240,000 Hispanic-owned businesses that do more than $39.5 billion in sales annually. 

And I am proud to be governor of a state that is setting an example to the rest of the nation when it comes to job creation.

Since July of 2003, Texas employers have added nearly 216,000 net new jobs...
    ...and employment in Texas is at an all-time high.

Last year we were named the best state to do business in by a national magazine...
...and we landed more job creation announcements than any other state in the nation. 

Sales tax collections are up and most economic indicators point to sustained growth in the future.

These things did not happen by accident.  They happened because we have pursued a path of fiscal responsibility...
...kept taxes low...
...reined in lawsuit abuse...
...and made unprecedented investments in job creation.

Today Texas is growing its way to prosperity.  Our challenge for the future is to keep the momentum going.

That’s why I have asked legislators to provide $300 million to replenish the Texas Enterprise Fund...
...our nationally recognized deal closing fund that is helping bring 24,000 new jobs to Texas and pump more than $6 billion into our economy.

And that’s why I also want to double the Skills Development Fund...
...so we can give more workers the training they need to compete in the workplace of the 21st Century...
...and welcome more Texans into the economic mainstream.

With continued investments in good jobs and great schools, we can build a brighter future for all our people...
...a future in which no dream is too big for any Texan...
...and a future in which every Texan is empowered to live their dream.

That is my vision for the future of our state...
...and I thank each of you for all you are doing to make that vision a reality.

Thank you, and may God bless you.

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