AUSTIN — Texas is stronger than ever, Gov. Rick Perry said early in his 36-minute “State of the State” address to the 83rd Texas Legislature on Jan. 29.
Perry praised lawmakers, saying the line has been held on taxes and the state is spending within its means, delivering on his priorities, by “making the tough decisions separating wants from needs.”
He called for an amendment to the state constitution “so when we do bring in more than we need, we’ll have the option of returning tax money directly to the people who paid it.” And he said employment is robust, with nearly 1.4 million low, medium and high-paying jobs added in the last two years.
As for the environment, Perry said that from 2000 to 2011, ozone levels decreased by 23 percent and industrial nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide gas emissions were cut by 60 percent.
In a pushback statement aimed at Washington, D.C., Perry said Texas would not expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act and would not set up a state health care exchange — part of phased-in “Obama Care” intended to aid citizens in finding affordably priced health insurance.
Education, Perry said, is progressing, with graduation rates at an all-time high, the third highest in the nation. Perry noted that some higher education institutions are offering the $10,000 four-year degree program that he asked for, and he spoke proudly of increases in charter-school enrollment, but he did not mention the $5 billion stripped two years ago from the public education budget.
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