PERRY, JAMES RICHARD (1950~) A fifth generation Texan, Governor Rick Perry has taken an extraordinary Texas journey, from a tenant farm along the rolling plains of West Texas to the governor's office of our nation's second largest state.
Texas' 47th governor, and the first Texas A&M graduate to occupy the Texas Governor's Mansion, Rick Perry has led a life of public service, serving four and a half years in the United States Air Force, and nearly two decades in elected office as a state representative, commissioner of agriculture, lieutenant governor and now governor.
Governor Perry has focused his administration on creating a Texas of unlimited opportunity and prosperity through initiatives to improve education and the Texas job climate, keep taxes low and ensure state spending is disciplined.
He joined legislators of both parties in passing a balanced budget without a tax hike despite a $10 billion shortfall in 2003. Demonstrating Governor Perry's priorities, the budget he signed increased education and healthcare spending despite tough economic times, and invested in jobs with the new $295 million Texas Enterprise Fund, because Governor Perry believes the best long-term, stable source of revenue for funding public priorities is job creation.
Governor Perry was recognized at the top of the list of "Ten People Who Have Made a Difference" by Southern Business Development Magazine (Winter 2003/2004 edition.) Business Facilities Magazine also recognized the governor's key role in attracting the Toyota Motor Company expansion to San Antonio on the cover of their December 2003 edition. According to Site Selection Magazine, Texas closed 46 percent of the biggest deals of the year in 2003 (March 2004 edition.)
Governor Perry also signed the nation's most sweeping lawsuit reforms in the nation. The Wall Street Journal said "Texas's omnibus (tort reform) bill stands out for its sheer scope." The Texas reforms will greatly enhance the job climate, and are a model for the nation in addressing skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates. Since signing medical malpractice reform (later affirmed by voters at the ballot box), close to a dozen new underwriters have sought entry into the Texas market, many hospitals and doctors have experienced insurance savings, and obstetricians and specialists are returning to practice in previously high-risk areas.
Since becoming lieutenant governor in 1999, Rick Perry has worked to build a stronger safety net for the poorest of the poor. The number of children with health insurance under Medicaid and CHIP has more than doubled since 1999, and increased by more than 100,000 children since January, 2003. The governor is also working to expand opportunities for the private sector to offer health insurance because he believes it is preferable for more Texans to receive privately funded health care. He signed legislation allowing small businesses to pool together to offer affordable health insurance policies, and reduced the number of mandates for private sector policies.
The governor has also offered the most visionary transportation plan in the nation - the Trans Texas Corridor - which not only provides thousands of miles of new roads, but also new rail lines, and room for petroleum and electric lines, water lines and broadband technology. This proposal, new renewable energy requirements, and emissions reduction legislation signed by Governor Perry, will all help clean the air in urban areas.
Governor Perry has also offered a comprehensive vision for school finance reform based on four key principles: 1) changing the focus in public education from minimum standards to academic excellence through results-based incentives; 2) cutting, capping and controlling property taxes; 3) eliminating the "Robin Hood" funding scheme while providing greater equity, and; 4) protecting the job climate.
Before becoming governor, Lieutenant Governor Perry worked with legislators of both parties to pass a balanced state budget that included record tax cuts, record teacher pay raises, and a historic school funding increase.
He earned high marks as the president of the Senate for his bipartisan leadership. The El Paso Times editorialized, "Promises made, promises kept. That is the slogan by which Texas Lt. Governor Rick Perry should be remembered."
Rick Perry was first elected to statewide office in 1990, serving as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture for two terms. From 1985 to 1991, he represented a rural West Texas district in the Texas House of Representatives.
Governor Perry hails from Paint Creek, a small farming community about an hour north of Abilene, where farming, ranching and public service run in his family. His father, Ray Perry, served as a Haskell County Commissioner, school board member and a World War II tailgunner.
Between 1972 and 1977, Governor Perry served in the United States Air Force flying C-130 tactical airlift aircraft in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Governor Perry is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a junior and senior yell leader, and an animal science major.
The younger of Ray and Amelia Perry's two children, Governor Perry was active in scouting and earned the high distinction of Eagle Scout. He first met Anita Thigpen at a piano recital during their elementary school years. They married in 1982.
Governor Perry is a lifetime member of American Legion Post #75. Rick and Anita Perry are the proud parents of two children - Griffin, 20, and Sydney, 18. The Perrys are members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin.
Information taken from the governor's website, http://www.governor.state.tx.us/about.