Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Comments at the Stephen F. Austin Nursing Bonds Bill Signing

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007  •  Speech

Thank you, Baker (Pattillo, SFA president), Thank you, Dr. Walker (Dr. Glenda C. Walker, Professor and Director of Nursing)

The bill I am signing today is part of our commitment to alleviate the nursing shortage in Texas. It is common-sense legislation that will ultimately improve health services for all Texans by encouraging future private-sector investments in nursing education, modeling community involvement in local colleges, increasing the capacity and quality of nursing instruction in Texas. House Bill 1775, authored by Representative Wayne Christian and sponsored by Senator Steve Ogden, is an essential building block in our efforts to improve healthcare in the state of Texas. I am especially pleased to sign this bill because it formalizes a partnership between a government committed to rewarding performance, a community pledged to support education and a school that is willing to invest in a bold vision for the future. This relationship is proof that not all the answers can be found in Austin. As a state, we are at our best when people at the local level address local challenges with local solutions. This is a prime example of that spirit of ownership, innovation and investment. So, I commend the DeWitt family for their gracious gift of land and facilities. You have planted a seed that I’m confident will grow under the careful stewardship of this fine university.

I may have some unique insights into the challenges of the nursing profession as one of them was kind enough to become my wife some twenty five years ago. I can tell you from watching Anita that nursing is a demanding profession that requires long hours, extensive study and infinite patience. It is a uniquely honorable vocation whose healing practitioners bring comfort and care to everyone they touch. Nurses are the glue that holds together our healthcare system. They are the soldiers on the front lines of the every day struggle between life and death. As they serve their fellow patients, they are a source of comfort and messengers of healing. And we need more of them in Texas. According to a recent report, Texas will have 27,000 fewer nurses than it needs in 2010 if the current trends continue unchecked. Here in East Texas, nearly ten percent of nursing jobs go unfilled. At the same time, nursing schools across the state turn away thousands of candidates each year due to limited facilities and a shortage of instructors.

In this last legislative session, we advocated for a significant investment in nursing education with an emphasis on rewarding innovation. The legislature agreed and bills like this one are moving us toward solving that shortfall. The bonds authorized by this bill can provide up to $13 million worth of new facilities for this school. These facilities will be a training ground for the healing arts, a launching pad for medical careers and a source of healthcare practitioners who will improve communities across the state. I commend you all for your involvement in this worthy project.

To expand upon the merits of this bill, I would like to ask the author of this bill, Representative Wayne Christian, to share his thoughts.

Thank you, Wayne. I would now like to introduce Senator Robert Nichols.

Thank you, Robert. And, finally, I would like you to meet Dr. Glenda Walker, the Director of Nursing here at SFA.

Thank you, Glenda. And now, it is an honor and a privilege to sign this bill.

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