The SE Texas Record Jun. 10, 2015, 11:46am


By Gov. GREG ABBOTT

Texas is strong. When we work together, we are even stronger. That is the lesson of these past few weeks as families and businesses across this state faced devastating floods and tornadoes.

We mourn deeply the loss of life. We look for lessons learned. And we begin rebuilding for the future.

What will that future look like for our children?

When I took the oath of office in January as governor of this great state, I promised to improve our public and higher education systems, build new roads, secure our border and chart a course that keeps Texas a beacon of individual liberty and economic opportunity.

Observers called this an ambitious agenda. I’m happy to report that when the 84th Legislature adjourned on June 1, we followed through on those promises and much more.

With strong bipartisan support in the Texas House and Senate, we passed a package of early education legislation to strengthen the foundation on which our children will build their future.

Teachers will have access to new specialized training to help more of our children master critical reading and math skills in kindergarten through third grade. Districts will be awarded more resources to improve prekindergarten program quality while being held more accountable for student success. And parents will be empowered with clear and concise information about their school’s performance so they can make educational decisions that are best for their children.

Because technologies not yet invented will drive continuing innovation, we are committing $450 million to elevate our university research programs and to attract even more nationally recognized researchers and Nobel Laureates to our higher education institutions. We are also making college more affordable by ensuring college credits earned in high school are counted, that college credits transfer more easily between institutions, and that the path to career and technical training is cleared of obstacles to meet the growing demand in high-skilled technical fields.

To keep commerce and commuters moving, we are investing in infrastructure and adding nearly $4 billion more per year for roads without raising tolls, fees, debt or taxes.

Instead of raising taxes, we are providing $3.8 billion in tax relief, freeing Texas businesses and homeowners to invest more in new jobs, higher wages and stimulating the Texas economy. This includes permanently cutting the burdensome business franchise tax by 25 percent as well as increasing the homestead exemption to $25,000 and holding local taxing districts more accountable to voters as first steps in providing homeowners with lasting property tax relief.

When it comes to our state’s responsibilities, our first and foremost obligation is to protect our citizens’ safety. We must address the threat posed by drug cartels, transnational gangs and human smuggling and trafficking operations. We will do what the federal government has failed to do: We will secure our border. We are more than doubling our investment in border security, allocating $800 million for added public safety personnel, technology and local resources to keep communities across our state safe.

Thanks to my partners in the Legislature, much was accomplished this session on behalf of the people of Texas.

We are keeping our state strong and prosperous with a budget that is below the state’s spending limit. We are removing barriers to job growth to unleash the power of entrepreneurs and innovators. And we are securing Texans’ freedom to aspire.

There is more work to do, and I will not be complacent.

Working together, we will build an even stronger Texas.

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