Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry Speaks at Tax Reform Commission

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, November 21, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, John. It is an honor to be here with you all, and I thank you for accepting this important charge.

The challenge of reforming the Texas tax structure is one of lasting consequence. The way in which Texas chooses to construct a new tax system will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of our future, from our ability to attract jobs and economic growth, to the prosperity of our families, to the quality of education our children receive in tomorrow’s public school classrooms. While the challenge is great, it is one that I have always believed can be solved when leaders come together to do what’s right for the people of this state. That is why I have asked each of you to serve on the Texas Tax Reform Commission. As the leaders of Texas’ diverse and thriving private sector, from various industries and different regions of the state, you bring to this debate a fresh perspective and a wide range of expertise that will be essential to crafting a bipartisan plan that both chambers of the legislature can support. And just as importantly, your service on this commission provides Texas taxpayers an opportunity to let their voices be heard so that they might have a greater say over their taxpaying destiny.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time traveling this state and listening to the people, I can tell you that you will hear a singular message on the issue of property taxes: bring them down now so that Texans benefit from significant, long-lasting property tax relief. I encourage you to take that message to heart. The fact is, every year countless Texans are denied the opportunity to fully participate in the American dream simply because they can’t afford the tax bill associated with owning their own home. And if property taxes are not permanently reduced, we will soon reach a day when the tax burden will force thousands of families to choose between foreclosure or selling the dream home they worked a lifetime to achieve.

As you consider proposals to reform the Texas business tax structure, I ask that you judge each idea on its merits, and whether it will achieve the primary goals of lowering property taxes, ensuring greater fairness across the system, and providing a long-term, reliable source of revenue for our public schools. I also ask that your ultimate proposal be built upon five foundational principles: Our tax system must be fair, because a level playing field is essential for healthy free market competition, broad-based, so that all who benefit from Texas’ resources and services pay their fair share, modern, and reflect the realities of today’s rapidly evolving economy, understandable, so that small business owners can focus their time and resources on creating jobs instead of navigating a maze of government regulations, and competitive, so that Texas can continue to attract jobs by maintaining our reputation for having the best business climate in America.

By agreeing to serve your fellow Texans on this commission, you have seized a golden opportunity to make a lasting difference for future generations. I know this group will succeed because your collective achievements in the private sector prove that you are men and women of vision, strong leaders who know how to bring people together to achieve a great goal. I am also confident because you are led by a capable chairman who understands the intricacies of Texas tax code like few others, John Sharp. And also at your service is one of my former top advisors, Robert Howden, who John and I have asked to serve as staff director for this commission, as well as James LeBas and Karey Barton, both of whom have tremendous experience dealing with state tax issues. I want you to know that I and my office stand ready to assist you in any way to help you succeed. Texas needs your wisdom and your courage, and I thank you for agreeing to serve.

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