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LiveBlog: Perry's State of the State

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his sixth State of the State speech today, addressing a joint session of the Texas House and Senate, and selling the state's fiscal troubles as an opportunity to make government more efficient.

Gov. Rick Perry delivering his State of the State address on Feb. 8, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his sixth State of the State speech today, addressing a joint session of the Texas House and Senate, and selling the state's fiscal troubles as an opportunity to make government more efficient.

Perry offered a litany of proposals, from challenging Texas colleges and universities to offer a $10,000 bachelor's degree — including textbooks — to asking lawmakers to consider outcome-based financial aid — basing a portion of their funding on the number of degrees they churn out. He also recommended suspending funding for four Texas agencies, including the Texas Historial Commission and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Among his other highlights:

—  Requiring students to be enrolled or working toward a GED if they want a driver’s license.

—  Giving employers a $1,500 tax break for every employee who earns a diploma or GED during hours off from work.

—  Freezing Texas college tuition for four years.

—  Charging repeat sex offenders with life without parole for certain offenses, and monitoring high risk offenders via GPS for three years after they’re released.

Perry also hit on his emergency items for this session, including voter ID, tougher eminent domain laws and abortion sonogram legislation. And he lashed out against Washington — from “Obamacare” to EPA “mandates” to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s education amendment. 

For context, Doggett supported a measure — what some call the "Doggett Amendment" — that required Texas to maintain state funding of schools for at least three years to get $830 million in federal money from the Education Jobs Fund, because he didn't want Perry to replace state funds to education with federal money. Now, Perry has refused to sign the application for the $830 million with the Department of Education, saying that Texas can't guarantee future funding without the permission of state lawmakers. Abbott is currently suing to get the money without the strings attached.

Working on a response from Doggett's office.


by Emily Ramshaw
We're here in the Texas House, awaiting the arrival of the entire Senate and Gov. Rick Perry.
by Emily Ramshaw
Apparently, the woman whose husband was allegedly shot by narcos while jet-skiing on Falcon Lake is in the audience. Perry will make reference to her in his speech.
by Emily Ramshaw
The Senate has arrived. Now we're just waiting for Perry to get this show on the road.
by Emily Ramshaw
The Perrys are in the House. Go-time!
by Emily Ramshaw
First Lady Anita Perry — all smiles — gets a standing ovation.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says his wife "represents all that is good about Texas women, with her grace, strength, compassion and I might add a wonderful smile." That smile line is clearly a jab at this Statesman column:
by Emily Ramshaw
We're heading into the "why Texas isn't in crisis" section of the speech. Perry: "The state of the state is still strong."
by Emily Ramshaw
"I think we need to balance their pessimism with some good news."
Texas added more jobs in 2010 than any other state; Texas had six of the nation's top-20 strongest performing metro areas; For the sixth year running, Texas was the top destination for relocations.
by Emily Ramshaw
"I could keep on listing accolades," Perry says, "but the fact of the matter is I don’t want to make other states have a complex."
by Emily Ramshaw
Let's not cut any of our economic development funds — which would only thrill other state governors, Perry says.
by Emily Ramshaw
Emptying out the Rainy Day Fund is not the way to meet the state's budget shortfall, Perry says: "Emptying the savings account to pay for recurring expenses is a bad idea, whether it happens at home, the workforce or with our state budget."
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry suggests the "mainstream media and big government interest groups are doing their best to convince us that we're facing a budget Armageddon." "Texans don't believe it and they shouldn't because it's not true," he says.

He says raising taxes is not the answer. "Are we facing some tough choices? Of course we are, but we can overcome them by setting priorities, by cutting bureaucracy, by reducing spending and focusing on what really matters."
by Emily Ramshaw
Here come the solutions:

Starting with eliminating duplication, by "moving the Department of Rural Affairs into the Department of Agriculture." Suspending funding for the Historical Commission and the Commission on the Arts until the economy improves.
by Emily Ramshaw
And now, we're moving into Perry's big priorities.

Voter ID — "Most Texans, regardless of party, believe the integrity of elections would be improved by requiring participants to show a valid photo identification before voting."
by Emily Ramshaw
Fast-tracking the sonogram bill "so women are fully informed" before they proceed with an abortion.
by Emily Ramshaw
Dropout rate solutions:
— “Let’s expand our Virtual School Network, with a Virtual High School that will enable students who have dropped out to earn a diploma online."
— Require students to be enrolled or working toward a GED if they want to get a driver’s license.
—Offer employers a $1,500 tax incentive for every employee who earns their diploma or GED after receiving two hours off per week with pay to study or go to class.
by Emily Ramshaw
“We also need to help school districts reduce their expenses in these tight budgetary times, made worse by a certain Texas Congressman who singled out our state for punishment in pursuit of his own agenda.” This is Perry's slam at Austin's own Lloyd Doggett.
by Emily Ramshaw
Higher ed proposals:
—“Outcomes-Based Funding” in which a significant percent of undergraduate funding would be based on the number of degrees awarded.
— A 4-year tuition freeze
— "I’m challenging our institutions of higher education to develop bachelor’s degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including textbooks."
— “College Credit 4 Heroes,” a plan to offer veterans credit for their skills and experience.
by Emily Ramshaw
Heading into the courts and criminal justice:
— "Texas needs a “loser pays” component in our legal system, in which those who sue and lose are required to pay the court costs and legal expenses of those they sued."

by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says he wants prosecutors to be able to seek life without parole for certain repeat sex offenders, and require active GPS monitoring of high risk offenders for three years after they’ve served their time.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says border violence is becoming even more frightening. He addresses a special guest in the audience: Tiffany Hartley, whose husband was apparently killed at the hands of what Perry calls "narco-terrorists" while they were jet skiing on Falcon Lake.

by Emily Ramshaw
Border security "is not just a hot-button issue for the talk shows," Perry says.
"We must establish criminal penalties for employers who knowingly hire workers who are here in violation of immigration law."

by Emily Ramshaw
Perry's message to Washington: "Enough. Enough. Stop it."
by Emily Ramshaw
Washington is trying to "bribe us with our own tax dollars," Perry says.
by Emily Ramshaw
"Texas will make the right decisions and emerge strong."
"This will some day be regarded as the Texas Century."

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