Governor Greg Abbott addressed members of the Texas House and Senate in his State of the State Address on Tuesday and laid out his emergency items, including banning sanctuary cities, reforming the embattled agency responsible for safeguarding children, calling for a Convention of States to address overreaches by the federal government, and ethics reform governing elected officials.
Prior to beginning his formal address, the Governor introduced his wife Cecilia Abbott, the first Hispanic First Lady of the state. He said of her, “From her deep faith and steady grace I’ve drawn strength during our 35 years of marriage.”
Abbott acknowledged the recent downturn in oil prices but said Texas added more than 200,000 new jobs during that period. He touted the state’s national and international rankings saying the state is second in the nation in the number of Fortune 500 companies and in businesses owned by women. Texas has more public high schools ranked in the top 100 of any state, and is second in terms of graduating Hispanic and black students.
While the state leads the country in oil and gas, “Texas is in the middle of an innovation renaissance that weans our economy off of energy.” Abbott pointed to Dallas, Houston, and Austin as the “knowledge capitals of the entire world,” and the city of Midland for leading in the number of start-up businesses.
Addressing last session, Abbott said the Texas Legislature provided a record amount of funding for transportation and border security within a balanced budget.
Saying that the primary goal of government is to provide a “safe and secure” state for Texans, he added, this “is even more important when it comes to our children.” Noting that 100 children died in the child protection system in Texas, he called on legislators to “vote to end that.” He called for more workers that are better trained and for real accountability of the agency. He introduced two foster parents, calling on Texans to “open their homes” and “their hearts” to help with children in the foster care system.
Texas reportedly leads the nation in sexual abuse by teachers of students, and Abbott called for legislation that would take away the licenses of abusive teachers. He also called for consequences for administrators that merely “shuffle” these offenders to other schools.
Protecting Texans also means dealing with the consequences of the federal government in not securing the border. The State cannot change federal immigration laws but can enforce existing laws. While being clear in his support for legal immigration, Abbott noted the consequences of an unsecured border, naming one of the criminal aliens who have committed crimes against Texans.
“Elected officials don’t get to pick and choose which laws they obey.” Abbott then acknowledged Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). Breitbart Texas reported that Perry pre-filed an anti-sanctuary bill in November, Senate Bill 4. The Governor declared anti-sanctuary legislation an emergency item during this address.
In addition, while he acknowledged that the Trump administration has “shown the potential to finally secure the border,” he said quoting Coach Darrell Royal, “Potential just means you ain’t done it yet.”
The governor is meeting with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday to discuss the federal government’s help in securing the border; however, Texas will continue funding DPS (Department of Public Safety) troopers and the National Guard, he said. “Texas will not flinch in our resolve to keep Texans safe.”
“Texas will not tolerate attacks on law enforcement officers,” he said, calling for legislation that makes it a hate crime to target police officers.
Abbott cited his support for legislation for the “dignity of every child” and laws that criminalize the sale or donation of baby body parts. “We must also do more to help the children that mothers bring into this world. That’s why I’m committed to advancing adoption services and developing programs to support mothers who embrace the blessing of a child’s life.”
He called for high-quality pre-K education saying that 80 percent of the voters agree that it should be funded. Abbott castigated legislators gathered saying, “So, I’m perplexed by the budgets submitted by the House and Senate. They nod in the direction of Pre-K, but they turn a blind eye to the goal of achieving high-quality Pre-K.” He said standards must be set to evaluate these programs and then get rid of what does not work so as not to waste taxpayer money. “Let’s do this right. Or don’t do it at all.”
The Governor’s University Research Institute was funded last session and brought internationally known researchers such as Dr. Richard Miles, to Texas. Abbott says the GURI should again be funded.
He called for giving teachers the tools and resources they need, as well as changing the way that schools are financed. Parents must have the power “to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs.”
The Enterprise Fund, funded by the Texas Legislature during last session, has brought more than half a billion dollars in capital investment and thousands of new jobs. The State attracts jobs because of tort reform but hail-storm lawsuit abuse must be addressed. Abbott also called for cutting more taxes and business regulations. His goal – “to cut the business franchise tax until it fits in a coffin.”
“No government should be able to tax people out of their homes,” and Abbott called for property tax reform that prevents cities from raising property taxes without a vote. There also needs to be a real revenue cap, he said. Abbott thanked Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) who has filed the “Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017.”
Necessary spending cuts in the current biennium can be accomplished by hiring freeze. Abbott called on all state agencies to comply with this directive through the end of August. He said he was confident that elected representatives could balance the budget without “looting the Rainy Day Fund.”
Abbott declared ethics reform another emergency item and said, “I want to thank Rep. [Charlie] Geren and Sen. Van Taylor for approaching this effort in ways to avoid the pitfalls that led to the demise of ethics reform last session.” Freshman State Representative Briscoe Cain told Breitbart Texas, “Serious ethics reform and sanctuary city legislation are some of the most pressing issues Texans are demanding from their lawmakers.”
The governor also called for an end to the practice of government deducting union dues from employee paychecks.
Lastly, noting a federal government that has long been “out of control,” and “abandoned the Constitution, stiff-armed the states and ignored its citizens,” he called for Convention of States legislation. There were great cheers in the gallery when he said, “there are hundreds of thousands of Texans who are motivated by this.” He noted that restoration of the Tenth Amendment, enacting term limits, reigning in federal regulation, and a balanced budget, could be accomplished by proposing amendments – problems that “won’t be solved by one president.”
The native Texan ended his address with, “May God bless us in our efforts, and may God forever bless the great state of Texas.”
Governor Abbott’s office released the following video after his address. It highlights the major points made in his speech on Tuesday.