Governor Abbott Delivers 2023 Texas Inaugural Address
To my fellow Texans, thank you for your support and trust.
Thanks to Chief Justice Hecht for administering the oath of office.
I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan for their leadership. Thanks to the statewide officials and legislators. We will work together to keep Texas the land of opportunity.
God has blessed me with a wonderful family, including my extraordinary wife, Cecilia, who has championed Texans most in need. She has focused on foster care and ending the scourge of human trafficking in Texas. She and I share a constant ray of sunshine in our lives, our remarkable daughter, Audrey.
I also want to thank our family here today, led by my father-in-law, Bill Phalen.
All Americans are heirs to the freedom secured by the men and women who have worn the uniform of the mightiest military in the history of the world. My brother, Gary, is among them—having served in the Navy for 20 years, including flying combat missions in the first Gulf War. He is here with his wife, Denise.
Also with us are our Texas State and National Guard, who are leading the charge to defend our border. They are led by Major General Suelzer.
We would not have the freedom to do events like this one today, if not for the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform. If you’ve ever worn the uniform, please stand or wave so we can show you our gratitude.
Our state song, “Texas our Texas,” is a hymn. A hymn that glorifies the exceptionalism of our state. We work every day to live up to that excellence.
It begins like this, and I assure you, I won’t sing it, but I will recite it, because the words are important to who we are as a people.
“Texas, Our Texas!
All hail the mighty State!
Texas, Our Texas!
So wonderful, so great!
Boldest and grandest, withstanding EV'RY test
O Empire wide and glorious, you stand supremely blest.
God bless you Texas!
And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.”
By the grace of God, we have fulfilled that aspiration to be that “mighty state.”
Texas is America’s undisputed economic leader, providing pathways to prosperity for all Texans. Our $2 trillion economy is now the ninth-largest in the world. Texas is number one in America in producing the food, the fiber, and the fuel that we use every day.
The gas you put in your truck, the jeans you wear, the steak you eat for dinner, all of it is made in Texas. In fact, “Made in Texas” is the mightiest brand in America, and we use it to build the number one economy in the United States.
The second line of our state song declares: “Texas, Our Texas! So wonderful, so great!”
Texas is great in so many ways. We are home to more Fortune 500 headquarters than any state in America. We are now the headquarters of headquarters.
We consistently rank number one in economic development and lead the nation in job growth. We’re number one in semiconductor manufacturing. We have the world’s largest medical center. We export more products than any other state. Texas is providing opportunity that people cannot get anywhere else.
Much of our success is driven by our small local businesses. More than 95 percent of Texas businesses are small, and they employ nearly half of all working Texans. We have more black business owners, Hispanic women business owners, and veteran business owners than anywhere else in America. It just shows that everyone can succeed in Texas.
In fact, more Texans have a job today than ever before in the history of our state. That puts more Texans on the path to prosperity, through higher wages and unparalleled opportunities.
Our great economy has produced another record. We now have the largest budget surplus in the history of our state. But make no mistake, that money does not belong to the government. It belongs to the taxpayers. We will use that budget surplus to provide the largest property tax cut in the Texas history.
Our state song goes on to proclaim that we are the “Boldest and Grandest.”
Just as early pioneers explored our vast frontier, our modern pioneers are boldly exploring our vast universe. The first word spoken by Neil Armstrong after landing on the Moon was, “Houston.” Now we have teams in Texas that are building the pathway to Mars.
Texas is the epicenter of innovation. We attract the brightest minds and hardest working entrepreneurs.
To ensure that our booming state can meet the needs of our future, we must work this session to bolster our infrastructure including, the roads we drive on, the water we use at home and in the fields, and the ports that we use to ship products around the globe.
Our state is so grand, as Texas now has more than 30 million residents. By 2050, there may be 50 million. People from across America are fleeing the oppression of high taxes, red-tape, burdensome regulations in other states, and coming to Texas, where freedom and fortune are found around every corner.
Americans are showing that what Davy Crockett said still rings true today: “You may all go to Hell. I will go to Texas!”
Texas has also lived up to the next line of our song that we “withstand every test.” Let me highlight just one.
I signed 14 bipartisan laws that fixed the flaw in our power grid. Then, last summer we set 11 all-time power generation records, and last month we weathered brutally freezing temperatures across the state. All without any disruption to the Texas grid. Since our bipartisan reforms, no Texan has lost power because of our grid.
We all know that increased demand will be placed on the grid as Texas continues to grow. So, we will build a grid that powers our state for more than just the next four years, but for the next 40 years.
The next line of our song states the obvious: “O Empire wide and glorious, you stand supremely blest.”
Texas is blessed in so many ways. One of our greatest blessings is our children. One thing they deserve is a quality education. Per-student funding for public schools is at an all-time high. We have one of the best high school graduation rates in America. We're number one for National Blue Ribbon Schools, and number one for Tier 1 Research Universities.
Texas is now the knowledge capital of America.
But we must remember this, our schools are for education, not indoctrination. Schools should not push social agendas. They must focus on fundamentals.
We must reform curriculum to get kids back to the basics of learning and empower parents with the tools to challenge that curriculum when it falls short of expectations. No one knows what is better for a child’s education than their parents.
Those parents deserve the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their child.
One essential part of our schools is safety. We must prioritize protecting students and staff. We must provide mental health services to students who need it. Parents must know that their children are safe when they drop them off every morning.
We will not end this session without making our schools safer.
Public safety is a core priority for Texas. It flows from the chorus of our state song: “God bless you Texas, and keep you brave and strong.”
In Texas, we believe in law and order, and we support our law enforcement officers—period.
Those who serve in law enforcement put their lives on the line for us every day. If you have ever worn the badge, please stand or wave so we can show you the appreciation you deserve for the long hours of service to your community.
Last session, we passed a law that defunds any city that defunds their police. This session, we must end the easy bail policies that let dangerous criminals back on our streets. We must impose mandatory sentences on criminals caught with guns and on anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants.
Make no mistake, the border is a crisis for one simple reason. The Biden Administration is not enforcing the laws already on the books. As a result, more illegal immigrants crossed our border last year than ever before. In fact, over the past two years more illegal immigrants crossed the border than the populations of Austin, El Paso, and Houston combined.
With the Biden Administration missing in action, Texas is using every tool to protect our state.
We are building a wall, deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers to enforce the law, and targeting the Mexican drug cartels that traffic people, weapons, and drugs into our state.
One of the worst consequences of Biden’s open border policies is the deadly fentanyl pouring across the border. DPS has seized enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States. In Harris County alone, more than one person dies a day because of fentanyl.
There are parents with us here today who lost a child to fentanyl. They know we cannot bring back their child, but their hearts cling to the hope that their loss will not be in vain. They deserve action that will save other innocent families from the devastation they suffered.
They will get that action this session. The hopes of those parents rest upon leaders in this capitol. Our job is to deliver solutions for our fellow Texans. That is exactly what we will do.
Our state song closes with this aspiration: “That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.”
From our economy, to our people, to our public safety, Texas has never wielded more power or enjoyed such economic might as we do today.
Ever since early pioneers settled our frontier, Texas has been the land of opportunity. We have built that brand for generations.
We live in a state of infinite possibilities. A state that encourages Texans to reach for the heavens and beyond. We provide a ladder for anyone to climb from humble beginnings to the heights of success.
A Texas where children can access the knowledge and tools they need to be the future entrepreneurs, scientists, and artists that will help shape the Texas legend for generations to come. A Texas where we value freedom, security, and the rule of law so that everyone can feel safe in their home, workplace, and school. A Texas where anyone can design their own destiny and then achieve it.
Today, we gather on the threshold of a legislative session that will transform the lives of Texans for generations. Together, we will build the Texas of tomorrow, not just for the next four years but for the next century. Together, we will ensure that Texas remains the greatest state in the greatest country the world has ever known.
Thank you. God bless you all, and may God bless the great State of Texas.