Texas’ 47th governor, and the first Texas A&M graduate to occupy the Governor’s Mansion, Rick Perry has led a life of public service, starting in the United States Air Force and continuing over two decades in elected office.
Governor Perry’s administration has focused on creating a Texas of unlimited opportunity and prosperity by improving education, securing the border and increasing economic development through classic conservative values.
Governor Perry has maintained a strong focus on fiscal discipline, leading the state out of a $10 billion budget deficit in 2003 by cutting government spending. He is also the only Texas governor since World War II to sign budgets that reduced general revenue spending. He has used his line item veto to scrub more than $3 billion in spending, while encouraging investments in the economy, education and security.
The Texas economy is performing well in the current global economic crisis, thanks to a focused effort to keep taxes low, regulations predictable and legal system fair. Gov. Perry led the effort to reform the legal system, signing into law a series of lawsuit reforms designed to stem the flow of frivolous lawsuits through Texas courts. As a result, employers can devote their resources to creating jobs instead of defending against those frivolous lawsuits. More importantly, the reforms reversed the trend on skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates which has led to an influx of
doctors seeking to practice in Texas. As a result, obstetricians and other specialists are returning to practice in previously underserved, high-risk areas.
Gov. Perry has improved the quality of Texas schools from top to bottom by increasing accountability, raising expectations and funding programs that work. He introduced the largest teacher incentive pay program in the country, and has overseen a 43% increase in total spending on public education. He also signed a school finance reform package that provided a 33% school property tax reduction, a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, record funding for classrooms and a reformed business tax.
Stepping into the gap left by the federal government, Governor Perry has worked with the legislature to fund coordinated border security efforts of more than $230 million over the past several years. Pursuing a “boots on the ground” strategy, the approach of integrating and coordinating local, county, state and federal law enforcement efforts has decreased crime in key areas by more than 60%.
Rick Perry was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1985 as a representative for a rural West Texas district. In 1990, he was elected to statewide office as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and served for two terms. Governor Perry hails from Paint Creek, a small farming community north of Abilene. He is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets. Between 1972 and 1977, Governor Perry served in the United States Air Force flying C-130 tactical airlift aircraft in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.
He first met his wife Anita Thigpen at a piano recital during their elementary school years. They married in 1982 and are the proud parents of two grown children – Griffin and Sydney.