Governor Abbott Addresses United States Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce At National Convention Luncheon
Governor Greg Abbott traveled to Houston today to address a luncheon at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention, America's largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders. Governor Abbott took the opportunity to tout Texas' powerful economic engine, discuss our state's partnership with Mexico and share with attendees the many initiatives the Texas Legislature took this past session to make the Lone Star State an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
"Texas is the premier state for doing business because we know that it's the private sector - not government - that creates jobs," said Governor Abbott. "As powerful as the Texas economic engine has been, we've been making it even stronger, because we want you to succeed. We need you to succeed. And when you succeed, America succeeds."
Governor Abbott's United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Remarks:
**Gov. Abbott often deviates from prepared remarks.
As governor of this great state, let me extend a warm welcome to Texas. Bienvenidos a Tejas. It’s an honor to have America’s largest Hispanic business association right here in Houston. Congratulations to Mark Madrid and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on being selected as your top chamber of the year.
How many of you already do business in Texas? By next year, I hope all of you will raise your hands. Let me explain why that should happen.
Texas is the premier state for doing business because we know that it’s the private sector – not government – that creates jobs. As powerful as the Texas economic engine has been, we’ve been making it even stronger.
The latest example involves my recent trip to Mexico City, where I met with President Peña Nieto, his cabinet and top business leaders. We discussed how we can make both Texas and Mexico more prosperous.
Texas and Mexico share more than a border—we’re connected by commerce, culture and family. Last year alone, Texas exported 100 billion dollars of goods to Mexico. These exports sustain a million jobs in Texas.
Expect to see that trade relationship grow even more. We signed a transportation agreement to speed commerce at border checkpoints. We’re forming an energy task force to help Mexico expand oil and gas production. And we anticipate President Nieto to visit Texas to further develop our trade relationship.
But it’s more than just commerce—it’s also culture and family. About one-third of Texans trace their roots to Mexico. That includes my wife, Cecilia, whose grandparents came from Monterrey. Now their granddaughter is the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas. The values we share transcend geographic borders. Our values are founded on family, faith and hard work.
Those are the values that helped advance the elite business leaders you’re honoring today. It’s interesting to note that four of them share a common bond. Their families originally came from other countries, like Ecuador, Mexico and California. Today, they call Texas home.
The reason business leaders are attracted to Texas from around the globe, especially from California, are revealed in a story about Jay Adair. Jay Adair is the CEO of Copart. He moved his business from California to Texas. He said the reasons were simple: regulations in California were out of control, taxes there were too high and unions had virtually hijacked the state. Jay looked at every state to relocate his business and in looking at the bottom line, he chose Texas. But what he didn’t realize until he got here is that there’s something far more valuable about Texas. It’s the truest sense of freedom that Texans enjoy.
That freedom has powered businesses like yours and propelled Texas to the economic pinnacle of the United States. Texans created more jobs last year than in any year in the history of our state. Texas has been the top exporting state for the last 13 years and has been ranked the best state for doing business 11 years in a row. Texas is second in the nation in the number of Latina-owned businesses and was just listed as the top state for foreign and direct investment.
Despite the fall in oil prices, Texas remains the land of opportunity. Our economy is diversified and resilient. In fact, Forbes calls Houston “America’s Economic Miracle.” The reason: Texas knows how to overcome tough challenges.
Not long after Cecilia and I married, we faced a daunting challenge ourselves. I was out jogging here in Houston when a tree branch fell on my back, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down. Now I know what you’re thinking: how slow was that guy jogging? But I realized, our lives aren’t measured by how were are challenged. Instead, we are measured by how we respond to challenges.
That is the same principle that you apply every day. You have to deal with increasing challenges, challenges in making your businesses grow, meeting a payroll deadline and navigating a maze of regulations and taxes.
As governor, I focus on policies that reduce those challenges and making doing business in Texas even more rewarding.
Texas is already home to 54 Fortune 500 companies and millions of small businesses. They are growing in Texas because we’ve built a framework that allows free enterprise to flourish through reasonable regulations, right-to-work laws and one of the lowest tax burdens with no personal income tax and no corporate income tax.
And while other states are raising taxes, Texas just slashed the Business Franchise Tax by 25 percent. We also fast-tracked the permitting processes, eliminated occupational licensing fees for 600,000 Texans and we exempted veterans who start a business from the Franchise Tax for five years.
To make our infrastructure the best in America, we’re investing an unprecedented four billion dollars a year to build more roads without raising fees, taxes, tolls or debt.
Let me mention just one more thing we are doing. We’re building a premiere education system for our children. We are emphasizing early learning and building the skilled workforce you need in your businesses. We are already seeing successes—Texas is tied for the second highest high school graduation rate in the nation for Black and Hispanic students.
We want more of our students to get at least two or four years of college. For many, a two-year degree is far more than a piece of paper—it’s a key that opens the door to economic freedom.
My new University Research Initiative is a multi-million dollar fund to recruit the best and brightest researchers and scholars to our colleges and universities. They will develop top research centers and partner with the private sector to develop ideas that will transform the next generation.
I visited with a Latina business owner about the role of education. Like my wife, her grandparents came to Texas from Mexico. She was the first in her family to go to college, and now she runs one of the most prominent real estate companies.
She told me that kids need role models who demonstrate why it’s important to stay in school, to strive and to aim for success. You are those role models.
We want you to succeed. We need you to succeed. When you succeed, America succeeds.
All that we ask is that you keep growing your businesses, keep hiring and keep Texas in your business plans.
May God bless you and your families, and may He forever bless the United States of America.