Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Greater Dallas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, November 21, 2001  •  Speech

Thank you.  I appreciate that warm welcome, and it is my honor to participate in the Greater Dallas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce’s Awards Banquet.

The individuals you are recognizing this evening make us all proud.  They epitomize what America is about: the opportunity to do great things because of unlimited freedom.

As I look out into this audience tonight, I see bold entrepreneurs, hard-working small business owners, dedicated educators, leading scientists and medical experts, community leaders, and devoted volunteers.

In short, I see what makes me proud to be a Texan!

The Asian-American Chamber of Commerce recognizes that you can accomplish much on the business and education issues that matter to you if you stick together and speak with one voice.  I want to commend you for that, and for being involved in the public policy process.

I want to tell you what a tremendous honor it is to be your governor.  This is a great job, in fact, I can’t understand why George W. Bush worked so hard in search of a new job when he had the best one in the world.

The entire Perry family feels blessed by this opportunity to work with you toward a brighter future for Texas.

It is the Texas of tomorrow that draws me to the office every morning.

I want that Texas to be a place of boundless energy and fresh ideas, a state committed to safe communities and good schools, a haven of opportunity for a people that is more diverse with each passing day.

I believe our diversity makes us stronger as a people.

Yes, we come from many different backgrounds, and we do have individual differences.  But there is more that unites us as Texans than could ever divide us.

We all yearn to be successful and to live the American Dream, and we all desire a Texas where our children can receive a good education, and chart a future as bold and vivid as their capacity to dream.

As governor, I have tried to bring Texans of differing backgrounds and unquestionable credentials to the table of ideas, and to positions of leadership.  Our state boards and commissions have been infused with fresh ideas and unique perspectives from qualified Texans who share my vision.
Dr. Wendy Gramm and Munir Lalani are serving with distinction on two different higher education boards of regents.  And one other highly qualified leader from this area just recently agreed to serve on a very important board to the people of Texas…the Texas Department of Health. 

Of course I am talking about renowned cancer specialist Dr. Amanullah Khan.

The greatest investment we can make in the future is in education.

Education is the foundation for success.  With that foundation, a citizen of the most meager means is empowered to rise above their current station in life, and enjoy the fruits of a free society.

Without that foundation, options and opportunities are limited, a life of month-to-month living is almost guaranteed, and future chapters of one’s life seem to be already written.

We should say to every citizen, “we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and as a state, we want to help you get there.”

This session, we placed a strong emphasis on both public education and higher education.

In the last few years, we have done a good job of improving reading instruction, and our youngest students are the ones who are benefiting from it.

But in this new economy, where technology is the future, students must also know math.

That’s why I proposed a Math Initiative that a bipartisan group of legislators passed into law.

If children fall behind during those critical fifth through eighth grade years in math, then they don’t have much of a chance when they get to algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus.

Too many of them are tempted to drop-out because they are frustrated.  And when a child drops out, he or she not only drops out of school, they drop out on their future.

Those students will now get the help they need, and their confidence will soar.

In the Texas of the 21st Century, where knowledge is power, a college education is more critical than ever before.

In 1999, we created the TEXAS Grant Scholarship Program that says to every young Texan, “we don’t want your future to be limited because your finances are limited.”

Tonight, I am proud to stand before you and say that we tripled funding for this worthy program, meaning an additional 65,000 Texans will have a chance to go to college.

We also expanded opportunities for Texans to get a marketable skill in a two-year college so they can attract high-paying jobs.  The TEXAS Grant Two Program allows financially needy Texans to attend a local community, technical and junior college.

We expanded funding for research and excellence initiatives at our colleges, because Texas must continue to be on the leading edge of discovery in our academic institutions.

We invested about $20 million in new funds for numerous biotechnology initiatives in Dallas and Houston that will help our hospitals and universities expand the frontiers of genetic and molecular science.

We also continued to expand access to quality health care.  Through reforms to Medicaid, we eliminated bureaucracy that has stood in the way of needed care for poorer children.  Children will receive preventative and routine care in a doctor’s office, when an illness can be prevented, instead of in the emergency room once an untreated condition has worsened.

This, along with the rapid enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, will mean hundreds of thousands of children will have access to better health care.

And we also recognized this session that the status quo is no longer acceptable for those of you sitting in traffic…it is time to get traffic moving.

If voters approve this November, as I hope they will, we will have new bonding tools to build more roads sooner.  Every hour you spend stuck in traffic is an hour you could better spend with a loved one or friend, at your house of worship making a difference, at a baseball or soccer game with a child.

We did all this despite a tightening budget, without raiding the Rainy Day Fund, and without new gas, sales or nursing home taxes.

These new laws will mean a better Texas.

But ultimately, a better Texas over the long-term is in your hands, private citizens willing to lend a hand to a neighbor in need, volunteers who give selflessly by mentoring, or just giving of their time, men and women who work together to keep their streets, neighborhoods and businesses safe.

There is a reason people the worldwide come to America, they desire to live under a lamp of freedom that will never be extinguished, they long for opportunities for their children that their ancestors never experienced, they hope to live in neighborhoods and communities with a generous and compassionate spirit.

It’s about a government of the people, by the people.

Winston Churchill once commented in stark terms about the difference between a free society and all others.  He said, “Democracy means that if the doorbell rings in the early hours, it is likely to be the milkman.”

It is here in Texas and America where no dream is impossible, if you work hard, possess strong resolve, and never lose sight of your goal.  You are evidence of that very truth.

I want to thank you for what you do, as entrepreneurs who provide opportunities for your fellow citizens, as volunteers who give back to those in need, as community leaders who work to enact common sense public policy, and as parents who raise your children to do right and contribute back to this community.

You are the hope of tomorrow.  May we all, each and every one of us, endeavor to make our every today worthy of that tomorrow.  Thank you and God bless you.

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