Economic and Development Summit
In Texas, we have a tremendous story to tell. In fact, we’re going to take that message on the road with an aggressive new marketing effort called “Texas One.” Massey Villareal has graciously agreed to chair this effort that will raise $5 million to actively promote Texas as the ideal place to do business.
As a part of this effort, I will travel to New York in October to discuss with some of our nation’s top CEO’s the many benefits of doing business in Texas.
There are a number of reasons to do business in Texas: we are the nation’s top exporting state, sending close to $100 billion in products and innovations to foreign markets. We have our own power grid and excess capacity because we have been building power plants while other states have been mired in red tape.
We have a diverse workforce, with the nation’s 3rd largest pool of graduate scientists and 2nd largest pool of graduate engineers. We have outstanding public schools to go along with a low cost-of-living. And Texans pay 32 percent less in taxes than the national average.
And I might point out we are one of few states with no personal income tax. Passing a personal income tax is the smartest thing we have never done!
And to make it easier to match workers with employers, I am proud to announce today that my office will soon be opening up regional economic development offices in the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, West Texas, San Antonio, Houston and the Metroplex.
This is the next step in our aggressive effort to bring jobs and prosperity to communities across Texas, including Texas towns along the border with lower wages and higher rates of poverty.
It builds on the legislature’s decision to move economic development and tourism to the governor’s office, which signaled that Texas places the highest premium on creating jobs and paychecks.
I want our friends in tourism to know we haven’t forgotten the vast impact that travel and tourism have on the Texas economy.
In 2002, travel and tourism supported 450,000 jobs and contributed directly to wage earnings of $12 billion. Travelers in Texas spent more than $41 billion and stayed a total of 314 million nights.
Texas has a unique mystique that attracts visitors from across the globe.
Travel just about anywhere in the world, and if you say you’re from Oklahoma, folks might ask “what country is that”…if you say you’re from Texas, they will know exactly what you mean…the Wild West and cowboy hats…oil wells and J.R. Ewing.
We also have a rich history that draws people here. Even if folks forget who won the battle of the Alamo, they want to visit it when they come to Texas.
Across this state, there are historical landmarks that contribute to the lore of Texas. John Nau and the Texas Historical Commission have given us a tremendous tool to teach our children about our roots with the Heritage Tourism program.
I think we can do even more to attract visitors and tourists to the unique attractions of our small towns and rural counties. That is why I am happy to announce my office is providing a $1 million grant to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texas YES Campaign to promote rural tourism opportunities around Texas.
Whether it is rattlesnake round-ups…watermelon festivals…or small town trade days…I want urban and suburban Texans to know about the festivals and fairs that contribute to the economy of our small towns, and to the fabric of our great state.
Let me close by talking about an issue I alluded to at the start of my remarks…ending lawsuit abuse.
This past session we addressed one of the top job killers in America: frivolous lawsuits.
On September 13th, voters saved their doctors and access to health care by passing Proposition 12.
The tort reforms we passed will ensure balance to our system of civil justice, save jobs and keep the hidden lawsuit abuse tax from escalating.
We passed product liability reform and class action reforms. Have you heard about those cases where trial lawyers get millions while clients in the class get coupons? Now, if the clients get paid in coupons, so do the lawyers!
We also removed incentives for plaintiffs to drag businesses into court instead of accepting a reasonable settlement offer because of their hopes to strike it rich.
If a party refuses a settlement offer, and receives less from a jury than what was offered at settlement, they get to pick up the other sides legal fees and costs from the date of their refusal.
By controlling spending and taxes, and by ending lawsuit abuse, we are showing the nation that Texas is wide open for business, prosperity and opportunity. In Texas, we understand that jobs are not created by government, but the ingenuity of the private sector.
It is up to government to create a climate conducive to jobs, growth and prosperity…and then let the private sector do what it does best…innovate, invest, and prosper.
And when the private sector prospers, Texas prospers. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless Texas.
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