Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry: 10th Amendment Gives States the Flexibility to Meet Challenges

Speaks at NCPA Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011  •  Dallas  •  Speech

Thank you Brooke for that introduction and thank you John . I appreciate this opportunity to be with you all today.

Before we get started, I'd like to take a moment to recognize the hard-working men and women who, as we speak, are placing themselves in danger as they try to gain control of the wildfires raging across our state, especially in West Texas.

Our state is blessed with brave individuals who never hesitate to run toward the danger others flee , saving the lives of their fellow Texans at great personal risk to themselves.

This latest crisis is no exception to their selfless service.

Our hopes and prayers go out to them as well as to the people whose lives have been touched by these fires; losing homes, livestock and livelihoods.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak with you today.

It's been seven years since the last time we spoke and over that time, we've faced many challenges, large and small.

Here in Texas, our impression of the past decade might be a bit different from the views you'll get elsewhere.

We in the Lone Star State certainly weren't immune from the effects of the global economic recession , but we weathered it much better than most states and continue to lead the national recovery.

That's because we've stay focused on common sense, conservative policies.

While many states were clamoring for help and raising taxes, we stayed the course, holding the line on tax increases, streamlining government
and creating a job-friendly environment that drew employers from around the country and around the world.

As a result, more jobs were created in Texas than in any other state in the nation through the first decade of this century and again in 2010.

CNBC has ranked us the best economic climate in the nation and just last month, Site Selection Magazine announced Texas won the 2010 Governor's Cup for having the most new and expanded corporate facilities in the country.

In fact, this Thursday, we're expecting a contingent of legislators from California who are coming to Texas to find out how we did it.

I know it sounds like a setup to a punchline, but that's a true fact.
Another fact: I'm eager to tell them all about it.

That's the beauty of the system our founding fathers devised when they ratified the 10th amendment to the Constitution, ensuring states had the freedom to do things their own way and the flexibility to meet their challenges in whichever fashion works best for them.

Over the years, the American system has done its job exceptionally well, with each state working as its own laboratory, an individual engine of innovation and discovery, finding innovative solutions to their challenges and motivating other states to remain competitive by coming up with their own versions.

Maybe the California delegation will learn things on their visit here that they can take back to the Golden State and use them to get their own economy back in gear.

Truth is, nothing would make me happier because that would make us here in Texas work even harder and come up with new ways to improve our economy and continue the healthy competition between Texas and the other 49 states.

Competition, in all things, makes us work harder, accomplish more and dream bigger. When it's competition between the states everybody wins. Unfortunately, not everyone views competition as a positive.

Over the years and decades, Washington has extended its reach bit by bit, until the sound concepts behind the 10th Amendment were blurred and lost and the idea of states' rights has become increasingly disregarded.

I've been fairly vocal about this issue, which is a little like saying Jerry Jones has been fairly vocal about the Dallas Cowboys.

I'm vocal because this is a vital issue in America today, as federal encroachment has placed the very idea of competition between states at risk in favor of a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't really fit anyone at all.

Whether we're talking about air quality, education or health care, the damage we face at the hands of Washington's unrestrained takeover attempt is catastrophic.

The skyrocketing price tag of Medicaid is just one example, and that's not even mentioning the upcoming balloon payments associated with Washington's overreaching health care plan.

The costs are staggering, looking just a little ahead, from 2014 to 2024 Texas taxpayers will be on the hook for an estimated $27 billion related to federal health care legislation.

Those same taxpayers will also be on the hook for personal, imposed mandates from the federal government, mandates that clearly overstep federal bounds.

I'm encouraged by Representative Paul Ryan's recent efforts to deliver Medicaid funds in the form of block grants which would provide states with much needed flexibility to administer health care.

For the most part, however, all Washington has managed to do is muddy the waters around its own failed policies by passing the costs along to states.

Washington has even attempted to bribe us with our own money, though here in Texas, we've resisted the lure of taking federal funding that would've forced us to blindly adopt national education standards and tied our hands in the way we administer unemployment benefits.

The more functions Washington takes over, the more we lose that spirit of competition , the culture of innovation that encourages companies to take a risk on a new approach, or an emerging technology.

Just last week, I was up here in Dallas for the announcement of NRG's plan to expand electric car recharging stations throughout the Metroplex.

NRG isn't taking that bold step here in Texas because of state government mandates or because of hyper-regulation.

They're taking that step in Texas because freedom feeds innovation and we work hard here to foster an environment that frees the private sector to do what the private sector does best solve problems, meet challenges and create jobs.

We keep our regulatory structures fair and predictable so entrepreneurs can focus on cutting-edge products, not cutting red tape.

We work hard to create a favorable climate and then we get out of the way. Don't tell our friends from California, but it's pretty simple.

Again, though, that's what can happen when states are freed from the micromanagement of Washington D.C.

Left to their own devices, any one of our 50 states is likely to stumble upon a solution to a wide-spread problem that's significantly cheaper and more effective than anything Washington can cook up.

But with 50 states walking in lockstep formation to Washington's steady beat, it's a safe bet that nobody's going to get far in solving any of those problems.

Again, though, their approach doesn't seem to be about solving problems; it's about control and Washington wants everyone to follow their standards or pay the price.

We're willing to take our chances because, again, our systems work and they work well.

As an example, for nearly two decades, Texas had in place a successful, jobs-friendly flexible air permitting program that not only cleaned the air, it helped create jobs.

Put in place under Gov. Ann Richards and operated under the oversight of presidential administrations representing both parties, our program helped slash our statewide ozone levels by 27 percent between 2000 and 2009 , better than any other state and cut NOx emissions by nearly 58 percent.

Despite our success, the EPA nonetheless placed a target on Texans' backs and continues to try and outlaw this sensible, successful program, endangering the jobs of thousands of hard-working Texans in the process.

In Washington's view, our program has one major flaw: it's different from the processes in place in the 49 other states. Even EPA Regional Director Al Armendariz couldn't say Texas' air would be cleaner if we'd changed to a federal model 17 years ago.

I guess the paperwork would be easier, though.

That's why our capable Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has taken the lead in our ongoing challenges against the EPA and in our fight against Obamacare.

This isn't a turf war, it's a way of doing things better.

It's a way of proving that local people solve local problems better than people hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

It's a way of keeping alive the ingenuity and spirit that have made America the greatest country in the history of the world.

Maybe if Washington were having more success, this conversation would be less urgent but, even with recent efforts in the House to curb federal spending, Washington simply spends way too much money with far too little to show for it.

As I'm sure you heard, President Obama just this week insisted we have to raise our national debt ceiling again.

That's a sad commentary on the future of our children and our children's children.

So, here in Texas, we will continue to fight for a better way, a way that is guaranteed by the 10th amendment.

We will keep up this fight until once and for all, Washington understands: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Not the other way around.

May God bless you, and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.



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