From: state Rep. Ana

Hernandez Luna, D-Houston

Along with her fellow Democrats from throughout the state of Texas, Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna expressed both outrage and concern over the emergency items set forth by Gov. Rick Perry, which were highlighted this morning during his State of the State Address to members of both the Senate and House chambers as well as the public.

“Today, Gov. Perry prioritized his personal agenda ahead of the prosperity and well being of the citizens of Texas by once again stating that issues such as the sonogram bill, Voter ID and eminent domain were what this state needed during a time when our budget deficit is almost incomprehensible,” said Luna. “The citizens of Texas deserve nothing short of us working day in and day out to create the solutions necessary to have the least impact on them. By setting this emergency agenda that lacks any items that would alleviate the burden on Texans, our governor is preventing us from doing the job we were elected to do.”

The State of the State Address is a time where the governor can inform all Texans of the goals and path that he foresees for the 82nd Legislative Session as well as the challenges that must be overcome. With our budget deficit at approximately $27 billion, the message should have been one full of faith and confidence in his guidance, yet after recent weeks, the lack of trust and frustration over the partisan legislation has caused many to cast doubt on his choices for our state.

“Gov. Perry has proudly toured the nation in every way possible to proclaim that our state’s economy leads the nation. Had he toured his state in a less strategic plan he would have had the opportunity to meet those individuals that are suffering the most because of the lack of his leadership. Despite this, my work and dedication for a better Texas will continue on throughout the 82nd Legislative Session.”

Luna represents District 143, which covers part of Houston, the cities of Galena Park and Jacinto City, and portions of Pasadena and Channelview.

From: Analiese Kornely,

Back To Basics PAC

Real leaders solve problems, not cut and run. But in today’s State of the State address, Gov. Perry glossed over Texas’ budget crisis to rail against the federal government instead. His speech couldn’t have been more hypocritical; he claims to oppose unfunded mandates, but tells universities to freeze tuition while cutting their funding. He spews anti- “big government” rhetoric, but calls for expensive regulations on business. He says he’d never raise taxes, but over 200,000 Texas businesses got tax hikes just yesterday because of his decisions. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Governor. You can’t call the state of the state “strong” while facing these facts:

Almost a quarter of the Texas population has no health insurance, the largest share in the country 1.5 million children in Texas are uninsured; the largest percentage of uninsured children in the country Hispanic students are three times more likely to drop out of school than their Anglo classmates Texas has the largest share of workers in minimum wage jobs.

Half of Texas college freshmen are enrolled in remedial classes, double than that of the rest of the country.

Homeowners pay almost the highest premiums in the country.

Texas has one of the largest budget shortfalls in the nation.

Texas has the second highest teen birth rate.

This is the legacy of Perry’s leadership. And his proposals just try to fix the problems he helped create. $10,000 for a college degree? That’s about what tuition cost when Perry became Governor in 2000, before he deregulated it. Gov. Perry, Texans

will see right through your call for a “level playing field” as long as oil & gas companies get huge tax breaks but over 100 community schools are faced with closure. Texans needs straight talk from the state’s leaders, and we need solutions that put Texas first.

From: Texas Civil Justice League

In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Perry urged state legislators to ensure accountability, efficiency and transparency in the legal system, and “take the next step” in the fight against lawsuit abuse by enacting “loser pays” reforms that will “further improve the legal and employment climates in our state, and impart even more energy, stability and security to our economy.”

“Texas is the best state for business because Gov. Perry has made fighting lawsuit abuse a priority,” said Lee Parsley, president of the Texas Civil Justice League. “We are going to work tirelessly with the governor to pass his pro-business agenda this legislative session.”

In addition to “loser pays,” Perry outlined other legal reform proposals for the Texas Legislature to consider during its 140-day session. “Texas is one of a very few states who don’t have an ‘early dismissal’ option for obviously frivolous lawsuits, but we should,” he said. “We need to make our system more accessible to the little guy, by setting up expedited trials and limited discovery, for lawsuits with claims between $10,000 and $100,000 dollars.”

Perry lauded the benefits of the state’s landmark legal reform during the past decade. “We’ve reformed our legal system to cut down on frivolous lawsuits, so employers and doctors don’t spend all their time in court,” Perry said. “Since tort reform took effect, more than 26,000 medical license applications have been received, and 33 counties got their first emergency room physician. Those doctors represent better access to care, a higher quality of life, and, more importantly, lives saved.”

Founded in 1986, the Texas Civil Justice League is the state’s first business liability and legal reform coalition.

From: Texas Public

Policy Foundation

The Texas Public Policy Foundation praised Gov. Rick Perry’s “State of the State” address today, noting that several of the policy priorities he mentioned in his remarks mirror recommendations in the Foundation’s “Keeping Texas Competitive” program.

“The challenges Texas faces today are considerable but we have shown before that we can emerge stronger when our leaders set the right priorities,” said Foundation president Brooke Rollins. “The proposals set forth today by Gov. Perry are in line with what we believe are needed to position Texas for future greatness.”

The foundation’s “Keeping Texas Competitive” agenda strives to keep Texas competitive and at the forefront of national prosperity and economic growth. Through this agenda, the Foundation supports reducing Texas’ tax and spending burden, standing up against federal overreach, improving educational quality for Texas students, and fostering a free market economy.

Key points in the “Keeping Texas Competitive” agenda that were supported in Gov. Perry’s remarks Tuesday:

• Balancing the budget within available revenue without raising taxes or fees while safeguarding the Economic Stabilization Fund;

• Eliminating programs or agencies that are outside the Constitutional vision of limited government;

• Strengthening state authority in air quality permitting and resist federal encroachment over state environmental law;

• Eliminating restrictions on virtual school courses and enrollment that do not apply to traditional courses;

• Tying higher education funding to student success results such as graduation, number of degrees issued, student satisfaction, employment outcomes, and student assessments;

• Improving Texas’ civil justice system by adopting a fair “loser pays” statute, an early dismissal for frivolous lawsuits, and a more efficient system for handling claims under $100,000; and

• Banning the use of eminent domain for takings that are not for a public use.

Rollins praised Gov. Perry’s initiative to identify government functions that could be eliminated, suspended, or consolidated.

“Too often, government agencies that provide non-essential services escape the budget axe because they’re perceived as too small to matter,” Rollins said. “This year’s budget process provides an opportunity for our state to determine the appropriate role of government.”

The Foundation also echoed Gov. Perry’s call for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“We join Gov. Perry in endorsing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Rollins said. “Runaway federal spending is of deep concern to most Americans, and it is long past time for the federal government to have to exercise the same fiscal restraint as state and local governments.”

From: State Rep. Lon Burnam,

D-Fort Worth

Instead of talking about the $27 billion shortfall facing the state this year, Gov. Rick Perry tried to gloss over the budget crisis and distract Texans from the colossal fiscal mismanagement that has plagued the state under his watch.

“When given an opportunity to come clean about the real issue facing the state — the Texas budget – Gov. Perry went back to his usual tactics of diversion, deceit, and delay,” said Burnam. “With a $27 billion shortfall that is being balanced on the backs of our seniors in nursing homes, college students, and kids in pre-K, Texans deserve leaders that are committed to budget transparency and will propose solutions that will put us on the path to fiscal stability — not band-aids that only put off the budget crisis for two more years.”

Texas House Democrats have called for an honest and transparent process in deliberating the budget this legislative session, but those proposals were rejected by the Republican House majority.

The governor touted the state’s 2003 reforms to limit medical malpractice lawsuits, failing to mention how those reforms have done nothing to increase access to health insurance or slow skyrocketing health insurance premiums. Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured. “The governor still seems to think tort reform will magically improve our health care system,” Burnam said. “But he refuses to support the kinds of insurance reform that will help Texas families.”

Perry also proposed today a freeze in college tuition rates for four years.

“I’m glad that Gov. Perry has joined our call for lower tuition rates. Since 2003, tuition at Texas public colleges and universities have skyrocketed,” added Rep. Burnam. “Unfortunately the proposed budget underfunds higher education by $1.1 billion. Now that too many students are priced out of college tuition, Rick Perry wants to pull the brake on his runaway train and set a new mandate without picking up the tab.”

Burnam wonders when the governor will begin to deal with the real fiscal and growing problems faced by Texas schools and families.

From: State Comptroller Susan Combs

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs supports Gov. Rick Perry who on Tuesday championed Texas’ strong economy and economic development efforts in his biennial State of the State address.

“The Texas economy — the world’s 11th-largest — continues to fare better than those of many other states,” Combs said. “Our economic strength is a direct result of prudent fiscal policies and conservative leadership in the past decade and earlier.”

In December, Texas topped the list of only 15 states that added jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Texas’ position remains strong in spite of national economic slowdowns,” Combs said. “With sound policies and an eye toward future opportunities, our state will no doubt lead the way out of the recession.”

Like Gov. Perry, Combs considers the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund essential tools for spurring state job growth. Combs agrees these two sources of business capital should be fully funded. And Combs agrees wholeheartedly with the governor’s call to remove obstacles to economic growth.

“We need to be sure government policies do not discourage private sector initiative, but instead foster economic growth through a rational regulatory climate and a welcome mat for businesses to thrive and expand, “ Combs said. “Clearly, it is the private sector and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives all sound economies, and Texas and its leaders know that very well.”

Combs applauded the Governor’s call for new initiatives to encourage young Texans to graduate from high school or obtain GEDs and to obtain the skills needed for in-demand jobs.

Combs is already in the lead on Gov. Perry’s call to control spending by streamlining government, eliminating duplication and changing the way services are delivered.

In the last several years, Combs has worked to make the Comptroller’s office more efficient. In addition to spending cuts sought by legislative leadership, Combs’ agency has engaged in procurement efforts that have resulted in savings for Texas state government.

“Taxpayers and citizens want and expect value for their money and ways for government to perform its essential services within available resources,” Combs said.

From: Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio

Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, issued the following statement on Gov. Rick Perry’s State of the State address:

“For over 10 years, Gov. Perry has made building the best state economy in America his top priority,” said Speaker Straus. “In today’s State of the State address, Gov. Perry renewed his commitment to our shared belief that by holding the line on tax increases and remaining committed to fiscal responsibility, we can emerge from this downturn with even more job creation, a stronger business climate and more opportunities for Texans.

“My colleagues in the House and I thank Gov. Perry for his continued leadership, and we look forward to working with him this session.”