Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Texas Daily Newspaper Association

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, March 14, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, Jeremy Halbreich.  I am honored to be here and appreciate the opportunity to speak with you all.

A staff member reminded me that tomorrow is the ides of March...
…and in light of what happened to Rome’s chief executive 2,000 years ago on his way to the senate...
…asked if I would be visiting the legislature.

I told him going anywhere near the legislature on any day when they are in session is fraught with danger...
…and especially when they are discussing taxes and education. 

But I told him not to worry…
…I have become quite adept at dodging sharp objects. 

20 years of dealing with the press will help with that.

So thank you for keeping me in top shape...
…and in all seriousness, thank you for the work you do to keep our people informed...
…and their elected leaders accountable.

Only a free press can give citizens the information they need to make educated decisions about their government...
…and only with an open government can members of the press provide that information.

I want the members of this association to know that I am a strong proponent of open government. 

And while there will always be exceptions to open government laws...
…those exceptions must be reasonable, clearly defined and carefully used.

The openness of our government is one of the characteristics that sets our democracy apart from so many other forms of government in the world. 

And it is a tradition that I will always work to protect for the sake of our democracy...
…and for the benefit of our people.

Just as a free press is essential to our democracy, so is a system of justice that ensures an orderly society.

Government’s first responsibility is to ensure the safety of its people...
…and that means we must have a justice system that swiftly punishes the guilty...
…exonerates the innocent...
…and inspires public confidence in its ability.

That’s why I helped establish procedures for DNA testing to prove innocence even after a conviction…
…and to validate the outstanding work law enforcement does in so many instances.

I am proud of the job our law enforcement personnel are doing, and I believe we have a good system of justice in Texas. 

But I believe it can be made better.

That is why today I am issuing an executive order that establishes the Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council to advise me on the adequacy of criminal procedures from the initial stage of investigation into a crime to appellate and post-conviction proceedings.

The Advisory Council will allow Texas to continually assess our system of justice as a whole so we can make improvements when needed. 

It is not intended to duplicate the role of the Board of Pardons and Parole, which reviews individual clemency petitions.

The Criminal Justice Advisory Council will study and make recommendations regarding procedures that are needed to keep up with advances in forensic science...
…major developing legal issues that could affect our criminal justice system...
…and changes in law that may be necessary to better protect the rights of both victims and the accused.

And the Council will represent a broad perspective of the criminal justice system, seeking input from state law schools that have entities reviewing criminal convictions...
…law enforcement agencies...
…and prosecutors, defense attorneys and victims rights advocates.

As I mentioned before, I have great confidence in our justice system. 

But no system is perfect, and we must not be afraid of asking the questions that will lead to creating a more perfect system of justice for the people of Texas.

This kind of criminal justice advisory council has been recommended by Chief Justice Jefferson and members of the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals. 

In some form or fashion, it has also been proposed by leaders in the Legislature.

Past problems in crime labs involving forensics and DNA testing point to the need for continued review of how we collect and test evidence…
…and the decisions made because of that evidence.

And just last week, President Bush’s directive that state courts review issues of consular notification in the cases of Mexican nationals on death row poses new questions. 

Both Attorney General Greg Abbott and I believe the order raises constitutional questions involving state rights. 

Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold the order, however, our initial analysis raises questions about whether state law provides the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals the clear authority to address the directive.

All of these are areas in which the Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council can provide valuable input.

The executive order I have issued today can help ensure that justice is dispensed more fairly for the guilty, the innocent and the victims of crime. 

And it will give Texans greater confidence in a justice system designed to protect us all.

(long pause)

As some of you reported, a few weeks ago I ran my first marathon. 

And for the record, it was my last marathon too.  The marathon is the only sport I know of that killed its creator. 

Those of you who have ever been so inclined to attempt to run for four hours straight can identify with how your outlook changes throughout the race. 

But if you keep your eyes towards the finish line...
…and keep moving forward at a steady pace...
…eventually you will get there.

The way I see it, this session of the legislature is not much different. 

We’re not running a sprint... but a race that will be won by steady forward progress.

And just like a marathon, there will be gut checks along the way...
…tough votes that require tough decisions. 

But as long as everyone keeps their eyes on the goals of greater achievement in the classroom, more money for our schools and lower property taxes...
…two months from now we will all cross the finish line together.

The plan on the floor of the House today is a starting point. 

And like all past tax reform bills, it will not be a final product until members of the House and Senate meet in conference.

It is important that members of the House support House Bill 3 so that the process can continue to move forward...
…so education reform and property tax relief stay on track... and so the senate has the opportunity to work its will and take the next step towards reaching a bill we can all agree upon.

If school finance was an easy issue, it would have been resolved years ago. 

But it is not insurmountable if we continue to work together, and continue to move the process forward.

(pause)

Let me close by touching on an important development from late last week. 

On Friday, Texas took an important step towards a better, more reliable transportation system that will move commuters and cargo faster and more safely...
…and create greater economic opportunities for our families and employers...
…by signing a comprehensive development agreement with a private construction consortium to build the first six segments of the Trans Texas Corridor.

The Trans Texas Corridor will remove hazardous cargo from congested freeways...
…clean our urban air...
…and connect cities and towns all across Texas to important resources and commodities. 

But more than providing a new method to move people and goods faster...
…the Trans Texas Corridor is a huge jobs program. 

The first six segments will put 140,000 Texans to work when you include both direct and indirect jobs.

In Texas, we’re not waiting on others to lead or innovate…
…we’re not afraid to ask how we can do things better, even if it’s different than how we have always done them…
…and we’re not going to accept a future marred by gridlock and growing pollution problems.

At the same time, much is left to be decided…
…and the public will have a thorough opportunity to continue giving their input. 

The route has not been designated…
…the environmental review is ongoing…
…the price for driving on the corridor has not yet been determined…
…and negotiations with landowners have yet to begin.

But I think it is important to be clear on one important point:…
…this state is committed to making all the necessary improvements to I-35…
…and that is non-negotiable.

At the same time, everyone would be wise to realize that we can’t expand I-35 fast enough or wide enough to keep up with growth and traffic. 

The only solution is a new corridor with room for future growth…
…and that involves much lower acquisition costs than expensive real estate that is adjacent to I-35 today.

The public-private partnership model that is making the Trans Texas Corridor possible is the model for the future...
…because it is faster, cheaper and fairer...
…charging a cost only to those who use toll roads.

(pause)

At the halfway point of the 79th Legislative Session, I feel good about the progress we are making. 

I believe Republicans and Democrats will come together to solve the great challenges of our day, because that is what the people sent us here to do.

And as we move towards the finish line, I know my door will continue to be open to members of either party who come in good faith to build a better Texas.

Thank you. I would be happy to answer your questions.

Learn more about:
Governor's Initiatives »
Connect With Us
Texas Governor's Office on Google+Google+ Texas Governor's Office on LinkedInLinkedIn Texas Governor's Office YouTube ChannelYouTube Sign Up For Email Updates - Opens New WindowEmail Texas Governor's Office Flickr Photo StreamFlickr RSS FeedsRSS Feeds FlipboardFlipboard InstagramInstagram
Related News
July 24, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Press Release
Gov. Perry Announces TEF Investments Bringing New Charles Schwab Facility to El Paso and Deepening Company’s Roots in Austin
June 20, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Press Release
Perry on May Jobs Numbers: “Texas Job Machine Firing On All Cylinders”
June 04, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Noteworthy
Texas Features a High Quantity of High Quality Jobs
June 03, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Press Release
In Case You Missed It: Texas Tops Fortune 1000 List
View News Archive »