AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott said the end of this legislative session brings many of his efforts over the past two years to reality. From the time he announced his candidacy for governor, Abbott has been building and working to implement a “Bicentennial Blueprint for Texas” which he said will mold the Lone Star State to being an even better place to live and work.
The Governor’s remarks came during a lunchtime meeting with a small group of reporters. Abbott invited the reporters to hear his reaction to the just concluded gathering of the Texas Legislature. “Government should be limited and should achieve only a few things,” Governor Abbott began. He said the government should “keep people safe, keep people prosperous, and try to build a stronger future for them.”
The Governor said that he filtered his legislative blueprint through that principle of limited government and developed four key points to build on. Those points were:
- Ensure that we would keep Texas a climate of economic opportunity. One that would continue to promote the economic principles that would grow jobs.
- We would improve our education system.
- We would secure the border.
- We would build the roads that Texas needs to continue to grow and thrive.
In the arena of economic opportunity and growth, Abbott said one of his key goals was to reduce or eliminate the gross margins tax. “I consider it to be an ill-advised tax, one that hampers job growth,” Abbott explained. He said the other key component of economic growth is to continue to rebuild the infrastructure of the state so that businesses can move their goods and services to market.
He continued that providing a well educated workforce is also key to keeping the Texas economic engine running at full speed.
“As far as keeping people safe, the leading issue that the people of the state of Texas wanted was to ensure that we did a better job of securing our border,” Abbott explained. The Governor stated that border security is not an issue that only applies to the border. It is an issue of national security.
“As I made clear to Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) when I showed him the border,” Abbott continued, “I showed him how drug cartel activity emanates from the middle of the country of Mexico, if not lower, and works its way all the way up to Wisconsin.”
He said we see cartel activity arise in the form of human trafficking in cities like Dallas and Houston in addition to gang activity. He said our cities are also affected by the cartels through drug sales and other crimes.
The Governor explained he developed “the most ambitious blueprint for Texas” during the campaign and that his blueprint included a foundation of facts. Following his election, his team went to work with legislators to build support and find legislative sponsorship. Through that process he developed five emergency items that he presented in his State of the State Address in February.
He said the legislature passed forty-eight of his key legislative issues in all of his five emergency areas. He said his only area of disappointment came in relation to ethics reform where he was only able to get a couple of items through the process. A detailed list of the Governor’s blueprint related bills that passed the legislature are attached at the bottom of this article.
He said that following his analysis of all of the bills that were passed, he will be signing or vetoing them. Following that, he will take the Texas show on the road. Abbott plans to travel across the nation and around the world to sell the Texas model.
Abbott said that, unlike Governor Perry, he will not just be out competing for business and jobs. He said he will also approach academia to recrute the best and brightest minds to come to Texas universities and colleges. “Selling Texas today is easier than it has ever been,” he said.
He explained that Texas will spend $4.5 billion on new roads to help businesses deliver their products and services. He also said the State will spend $4 billion in additional money for higher education. He said he will be sending a message across the county. “If you are a driven researcher, Texas has more resources to offer,” Abbott said.
“The Texas model already has a gold star brand on it,” he continued. He said that after this session, it is even better.
One reporter asked how the new campus carry law would impact recruiting researchers to Texas. He said they need only look at Colorado and the other states that allow campus carry to see that the predictions of gloom and doom just do not come to be reality. “Virginia Tech was a gun free zone,” he stated.
Another writer asked about the justification of spending $800 million in border security when illegal crossings are down and crime is also down. Abbott encouraged the writers to look at articles being written about the cartel wars just across the Texas border in the Rio Grande Valley. He also pointed to recent convictions of cartel criminal in Texas — people who were convicted for cartel related crimes committed in Texas.
“We will not allow carel activities to take root in Texas,” Abbott firmly stated.
Breitbart Texas asked the Governor if other border state governors are talking with him about potentially doing what Texas has done. He explained that California seems to be doing the opposite of what Texas is doing. He admitted he has had discussions with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez on how to take action to secure their borders. “Unfortunately,” Abbott explained, “they do not have the budgetary latitude that Texas has.”
On the issue of ethics reform, Abbott expressed his gratitude for the items that passed, but frustration about items that did not move forward. He listed a series of bills that are on his desk to be signed that cover many of his blueprint items in regards to ethics reform.
He repeated his statement that the Supreme Court of the United States, in addition to his own ruling while he served on the Texas Supreme Court, make it clear that the so-called “dark money” cannot be legislated out of existence. He said the First Amendment gives people the right to associate with whatever organization they choose and they should not have to disclose that association.
Another reporter asked what the Governor had allowed Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek was allowed to remain in charge of the organization despite bad reports on the agency. Abbott responded that he would not discuss personnel matters in a press conference, but that he had previously stated that he would deal with agency personnel matters after the session and it was now after the session.
Abbott said he will push forward in the next legislative session on issues related to the gross margins tax and ethics reform. He said those issues are not going away.
Abbott went back to border security and responded to a question from this writer about the new Border Corruption Team that will be built in the Attorney General’s office as part of the new budget. He said they will crack down on public corruption which is a side effect of the cartel criminal activities along the southern border.
He continued and stated there would be increased prosecutions and forfeiture actions relating to public corruption. He also said the state will volunteer to assist with prosecutions the federal government does not want to make because the cases are below their thresholds.
“The strategy will be to go after gangs and cartels,” Abbott said. “We will shut them down and take their money.”
In a final question, Breitbart Texas asked Governor Abbott is FEMA’s quick response to the request for emergency fund for Texas flooding, as compared to the non-response to the Texas fires in 2013, was a sign of better relations between Texas and the federal government.
Abbott smiled and said he has never seen a federal disaster response happen so quickly. He said it only took about 6 hours from the time of the request until FEMA responded. Abbott said his staff did an amazing job in putting the emergency request together. “It shows how effective our team was in working with the federal government.”