Because of hardworking Texans in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond, Texas leads the nation in job creation. We have the fastest- growing economy in America, our statewide unemployment rate is at a record low and wages are rising. And I am especially proud that the Lone Star State is No. 1 in jobs created by African American business owners and Hispanic women business owners. To put it simply, the State of Texas has never been better.
But more must be done to fulfill the promise of Texas. Working together with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, we will get it done.
PRIORITIES THIS SESSION
Our mission begins with our students. We must target education funding to help our students advance. And that starts in the classroom. To recruit and retain the best and brightest, we must pay our teachers more, create a pathway for the best to earn a six-figure salary and provide incentives to put effective teachers in the schools where they are needed most. Working together, we will create a Texas where every student is reading at grade level at the end of third grade, where every child, regardless of zip code, receives quality education.
We must also create a safe learning environment. No student should be afraid to go to school; no parent should be fearful when dropping their child off. Texas must act now.
We must also rein in a property tax system that punishes families and businesses and prevents younger Texans from achieving their home ownership dreams. We must limit the ability of taxing authorities to raise your taxes, and I propose giving taxpayers the ability to fire their property tax appraiser and elect a better one.
You can’t talk about homes in this state without talking about all the homes devastated by Hurricane Harvey. To help communities and residents harmed by Hurricane Harvey, Texas has already committed more than $1 billion. Additionally, the federal government has appropriated more than $30 billion in aid. But more resources are needed to help Texans rebuild. I commend the House and Senate, which have both proposed using Rainy Day Funds to help rebuild Texas stronger and more resilient.
We must also do more to keep our communities safe from treacherous gangs. I’m calling for two new anti-gang centers in Waco and Tyler, adding to those already in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio.
And we must fully fund border security until the federal government fulfills its responsibility.
As we continue to work together to end human trafficking and protect the victims of this heinous crime, I ask the Legislature to increase funding to create six regional human trafficking squads. We must also provide more funding to eliminate the rape test kit backlog and deliver justice denied too long. Working together with Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, we will get this done.
Finally, we must not turn our backs on the service and sacrifice of our veterans. That means giving veterans the tools they need to find a fulfilling career or start a business. It also means helping veterans whose challenges go deeper. This session we will ensure that those who fought on the front lines go to the front of the line for the best services Texas can provide.
Now is the time to chart a course that will make Texas even better, not just for the next four years, but for the next 40 years. When we do that, we will keep Texas the greatest state in America.
Greg Abbott is governor of Texas.