FORT WORTH – The strategies that have carried Texas to rank among the leading state and better than a majority of countries in a variety of measurements is the path for America to follow, Gov. Rick Perry told the Texas Republican Convention.
He had harsh criticism Thursday for President Barack Obama and Washington Democrats, took a jab at Democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis and predicted Republicans would take back the White House in 2016, perhaps his first step toward another bid at the seat.
“There is a better way, and it’s called the Texas Way,” Perry said. “Texas offers our nation a formula for American renewal policies that promote freedom, jobs and growth. We balance budgets, run surpluses and cut taxes. We address core priorities and save for a Rainy Day. We create jobs instead of growing government. The Texas model works. Conservative budgeting works.”
Instead of grandiose ideas, like his past speeches at the Texas Republican Convention have included, he focused on Texas’ successes and how those concepts might change America in his final address as governor to the state convention.
“There is no place like Texas,” Perry said. “We’re optimistic, independent, resilient and hardworking. We have never faced a challenge we couldn’t meet or a fate we had to accept.
“We have built the nation’s best economy, we’ve instituted fiscal discipline and invested in core responsibilities. We have protected the public trust in a time of growing cynicism. And we have controlled the size and scope of state government, even while Washington couldn’t even pass a budget.”
He termed Texas classroom reforms as the “greatest legacy” and what will prepare the next generation of workers for the next generation of jobs.
“Texas has some of the highest classroom standards in the country,” Perry said. “Our curriculum prepares students for either college or a career. While not every student will go to college, every student should be encouraged to reach their full potential.”
As evidence, Perry pointed to the class of 2012 ranking second-highest among all states in graduation rate and the leaps in SAT and ACT participation that have been made since 2000.
But, while one-third of the state’s budget is spent on education, Texas ranks 41st in per-student allocation. Teachers are paid a median salary in comparison to other states and in 2013 the state ranked 46th in SAT performance and 29th in ACT performance.
“While our system is not perfect, we are doing more to prepare our youngest generation for the opportunities of tomorrow than ever before,” Perry said. “For instance, Texas is a leader in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“We are in the business of creating opportunity, and our greatest economic development tool is an educated child. Education is the great equalizer. Children of every background are aspiring to learn, and succeeding in Texas. These children are our future. If they are inspired to learn, Texas will live up to its promise.”
He renewed a call for Washington to withdraw from areas it is not constitutionally permitted to be involved.
“To move our country forward, we need to reassert 10th Amendment principles,” Perry said. “The Constitution is clear: all powers not enumerated to the federal government are reserved to states and the individuals.
“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say Washington should control our classrooms. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the federal government should have primary responsibility over the air we breathe, the water we drink or the land we farm. And nowhere in the Constitution does it say Washington should take over one-sixth of our economy with failed schemes like ObamaCare.”
Texas’ economic policies are working, Perry said, noting Texas has created 37 percent of the private sector jobs in America since 2001, and that while home to 1 in 12 Americans, the state offers three of every eight new jobs in America.
“Some call this a miracle,” Perry said. “I don’t. A miracle can’t be readily explained, the Texas experience can. We don’t spend all the money. We don’t tax beyond what is needed. We educate our children. We implement reasonable regulations and we stop frivolous lawsuits.”
Ninety-five percent of those jobs, Perry said in a jab at Democrats asking for a national wage lift, pay more than the minimum wage.
He defended the state’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion.
“Federal money is not free. It is the fruit of taxpayers’ labor,” Perry said. “And the problem is not states that refuse it, but a federal government that so freely spends it.
“Government-run health care limits choices, it leads to waiting lists, and it busts the budget. If you need any greater evidence that government-run health care doesn’t work ask a military veteran.”
He termed the failure of the Veterans Administration in providing timely care to veterans and then manipulating data to conceal those failings as a “national disgrace.”
Perry challenged Obama that the economy can be grown and the environment protected simultaneously.
“In the midst of the worst economic recovery in 75 years, the president plays politics instead of standing up for American workers,” Perry said. “Millions of Americans are not working because Washington isn’t working. Washington spends money it doesn’t have on programs we don’t want. They have downgraded our credit, increased our debt and enlarged government.”
He touted that governors in “Red” states had cut taxes by $39 billion since 2011, while taxes had increased by $58 billion in “Blue” states in the same time period.
“Rebuilding America begins with adopting red state policies in Washington,” Perry said. “We need to remove the albatross of overregulation. We need to cut corporate taxes so jobs shipped overseas come back home.”
Perry was a primary candidate for President in 2012, and he reminded Republicans that “elections have consequences.” While he admitted that national Democrats see Texas as a “battleground,” he predicted it would be their “political burial ground.”
In a pointed remark toward Davis’ campaign for governor, Perry said: “We don’t need to outsource the governor’s office to Hollywood liberals. We don’t need to cede control of the Capitol to Chicago operatives. We need to elect a common sense conservative with big ideas; we need to elect Greg Abbott.”
While he graded Texas high for its successes, Perry challenged Texans to change America.
“My fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is up to you and it belongs to you,” he said. “You have the power to change America. You have the responsibility to stand in the gap for future generations, to declare you won’t settle for our present day circumstances because it is in our power to make all things new. Let’s roll up our sleeves, let’s get to work, let’s rebuild America.”