Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry Reflects on the Importance of Fiscal Discipline in Texas

Addresses Texas Public Policy Foundation

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Friday, January 23, 2009  •  Speech

Thank you, Brooke [Rollins] for that introduction and thank you to the entire TPPF team for your continued efforts to help Texans and their elected officials understand the realities of the world we live in.

When you hear the words “think tank,” you might picture a bunch of extra-brainy people in a big aquarium, but TPPF makes me think of a big ol’ Abrams rolling across the desert, picking out commonly-held misconceptions, and blowing them away with sound research and clear thought.

Today, it’s a pleasure to be in the room of so many deep thinkers who genuinely care about the direction that our state and our nation are taking, and are working to keep them both on the road, between the ditches, improving our citizens’ quality of life.

This conference is not only a wonderful opportunity to spend time learning about the big issues…it’s a gathering of visionaries, and a real public service to the people of our state.

The ideas discussed here don’t just fly off into the ether. Instead, the concepts you pull apart, examine and debate in this place help to shape the future of our state. I would love to see your ideas spread far beyond our borders into all 50 states…it would be good for the nation.

Concepts like lower taxes, reduced government spending and increased self-reliance are traditional Texas themes that would transform our nation…because things are looking pretty bleak out there.

However, the events in Washington on Tuesday are a reminder that, no matter how grim things might get on the economic or social fronts, our nation is still second to none when it comes to core principles.

The peaceful transfer of power that we all witnessed is an affirmation of our system, a testament to the strength of our republic, and a demonstration of our shared love of liberty.

No matter your political affiliation, we can all celebrate the beauty of our principles at work, while holding out our own hope for change that would protect our citizens’ rights, property, and paychecks.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the federal government is now steering the ship of state even more directly toward the shoal waters of runaway spending, unprecedented interference in market cycles, and a mountain of debt that is already blotting out the sun that should be shining on our children’s future.

Understand I don’t say that as a Republican…although I make no apologies for my affiliation. I express my concerns as an individual who has seen the remarkable difference that the opposite, more sensible approaches have had on our state.

For six years, Texas has been emerging from the pit of a $10 billion deficit that we attacked with spending cuts instead of tax increases. We have worked to create an environment conducive to the creation and attraction of jobs by keeping our taxes low, our legal system fair and our regulations predictable.

Our goal has been to reduce the crushing weight of government, thus increasing the freedom to innovate, expanding the reasons to invest, and creating incentives that inspire.

I stand here today, as the global economy continues to crumple around us, able to tell you that our trust in hard working Texans was not misplaced.

We lead the nation in exports, job creation and Fortune 500 companies because we made tough choices and stuck to our guns, and our citizens worked their tails off.

I am greatly concerned that our state’s economic strength is in danger from the prospect of an unprecedented expansion in the power, cost and audacity of the federal government.

I don’t suspect the Founding Fathers could have wrapped their sharp minds around a situation like the one we face, where the push to centralize power in our nation’s capitol would be so strong.

Among the Founders, the Republicans and the Federalists disagreed on many issues, but neither side would have advocated for the sprawling federal government we encounter today.

Like they did, I firmly believe in the importance of state’s rights and the necessity of a state’s ability to set policy objectives and goals to suit its unique needs.

The concept of “one-size-fits-all” might work with socks, but it is a huge burden when Washington applies it to governance.

I can’t imagine what Texas would look like if we had applied the federal government’s free-spending principles over the years. Who said California? Be nice now.

Fact is, a whole lot of states are in big trouble right now because they followed that exact path into a big hole and are praying for Washington to bail them out. We must never let Texas slide backward into that hole.

I am committed to working with our legislators to keep Texas living within its means, continuing our adherence to proven fiscal principles, and making tough choices, even in the face of ugly numbers.

How great would it be if the folks in Washington woke up one morning and decided to follow our state’s example? How great would be if they stopped their practice of passing tax cuts, spending more, and promising everything to everybody?

How great would it be if they bought into the notion that governing means hard decisions, standing on principle, and never tiring of doing so?
It would be greater than anything we have seen in our lifetime, and it would strengthen our nation beyond anything we’ve known.

Such a change would secure a future for our children that would allow them to experience the opportunity to succeed and prosper, an opportunity I pray doesn’t die with our generation.

Your discussions at this conference and the debates that are underway in this new legislative session are no mere intellectual exercises.

Instead, they relate to individual Texans and their ability to chart their own course, take care of their families, and decide what is best for their children.

By definition, a bigger government means less freedom for people to enjoy the blessings of our nation, less money left in the family bank account after paying taxes, and less reason to strive for something better.

Here in Texas, let’s continue our efforts to restrain government, sustain liberty, and remain a beacon of hope to the rest of the country. Together we can draw a line and secure the future.

Thank you all for your passion, your encouragement and your engagement in these vital issues. I pray God will bless your efforts with the fruits of liberty, and bless our state with continued prosperity.

Thank you.

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