By Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst
Texas is great because it is the last great land of the free and home of the brave, all pursuing the American dream. I’ve worked hard to ensure that your state government never hinders that dream. That approach has yielded unprecedented results.
Texas is not only the No. 1 state in the nation to do business; we also lead America in job creation and exports. The steps we took to build on that strong foundation in the 2013 session make me confident that history will regard this session as one of the most successful in decades.
During the session, we took deliberate steps to keep our economy atop the leader board by passing more than $1.3 billion in tax and fee cuts, including fundamental reforms to the state’s franchise tax in the form of lower rates. We slashed the research and development tax by more than $250 million to ensure that the high-technology manufacturing sector that has been so important will continue to flourish for years to come. And lastly on that front, we also eliminated the System Benefit Fund fee on utility bills, which will result in $150 million in fee cuts for consumers annually.
At the same time, we finally acknowledged the pressure that our rapidly growing population is having on our current and future infrastructure by establishing a revolving fund that can lend capital for water projects across the state.
The results we delivered speak volumes about the difference between Texas and Washington. In my view, the Legislature accomplished more substantive tax relief and expanded more freedoms in the last 140 days of session than the U.S. Congress has in decades.
Despite the very hard work done by most members of the House and Senate, the Legislature was unable to pass a number of important bills intended to protect and expand the freedom of Texans and cut the size and scope of government.
Since the need to resolve redistricting has triggered a special session, I have asked Gov. Rick Perry to include several items that will continue our fiscal health and further strengthen our economy.
For starters, we need to further strengthen our education system and rescue the 300,000-plus young Texans in failing schools by creating options for their parents, including school choice and a parental trigger to shut down failing schools.
To further protect the Second Amendment, we need legislation shielding our citizens from the whims of presidential directives and empowering law-abiding citizens to enjoy their freedoms under that Amendment.
That work must continue.
Unfortunately, the 83rd legislative session concluded with Texas Democrats unwilling to find consensus on these legislative items so important to the men and women of Texas. Therefore, I am not leaving any option off the table to achieve the will of the people during the special session.
When that work gets done, our state will be even stronger. And we can all take pride in that.
David Dewhurst is the lieutenant governor of Texas. This op-ed appeared on Dallas Morning news on Sunday May 2nd.