Here is a re-cap of the governor's remarks:
*Conservative policy is paying dividends in Texas, even through the rough times of the national recession.
*As for raising taxes he said, "We left the money in the hands of the taxpayers" instead.
*Texas benefits from a regulatory environment that is predictable. Texas has the top business climate in the country, with Austin, Houston and Dallas holding the top three cities according to Forbes Magazine.
*He wants additional tax relief this session. He referred to the Texas Budget Compact he brought forth last year. He went through the five parts of the Compact:
Texans can calculate more tax savings HERE.
*He promotes a strong workforce through education. Graduation rates in Texas rank third in the nation now. He wants to hold public schools accountable and determine best mix of testing evaluation methods. He wants to make school rating more transparent to parents. A one size fits all approach to education is a disservice to students, communities and the state. He wants to explore scholarship programs, especially for those in low performing schools. He subscribes to the philosophy that education money should follow the child - it saves taxpayer money. He supports State Senator Dan Patrick's legislation on education reform. He wants to maintain academic rigor while allowing flexibility for students.
Governor Perry took questions from bloggers.
When asked about Texans promoting education reform being opposed by bureaucrats fighting for the status quo, Perry spoke to the possibility of using mothballed school buildings as charter schools. "Why would taxpayers not want to see buildings utilized?" "Let's be thoughtful about this where school boards think it's appropriate." "Let's have this conversation." "Let's quit fighting over turf here." He mentioned that earlier in the day, he spoke with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other experts on education reform.
On refusing Medicaid funding through Obamacare, Perry said that it was "pretty straightforward opposition for me." While the funding begins at 100%, it goes to 90% after three years and would simply be a bait and switch move by the federal government. He said he has tried to get waivers during the previous administration as well as from the current one. He said this administration has been the worst to deal with from the state level. It's "their way or the highway". With Medicaid structuring today in Texas, 25% of the budget is consumed. To expand the way the Obamacare mandates it would mean an additional $8.7 billion over the next decade, which would bankrupt the state. It's a "strait up economic issue with me." He thinks Washington could allow more flexibility to allow greater access and do it for less money but it refuses to. He said it is Washington's way of saying "we don't trust you to spend your own money." He said it was a way for Washington to blackmail states into compliance with the system. If the federal government doesn't have the money in the treasury to fund Obamacare, then there would not be the money to fund the states for Medicaid either. The states will be left on the hook for the program and eventually force a single payer system into effect.
Governor Perry plans to pursue some tax relief while building infrastructure. Though TXDOT is pushing it's limit of credit, Perry thinks some amount of tax refund can be sent back to taxpayers while leaving the bulk of the Rainy Day Fund intact. He wants a Constitutional Amendment to give taxpayers a direct tax rebate.
Clearly, Governor Perry is upbeat about the successes of Texas and the state's top ranking as a job producer and friendly business environment.