A fifth generation Texan, Governor Rick Perry has taken an extraordinary Texas journey, from a tenant farm in the rolling West Texas plains 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 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. Under Governor Perry’s leadership, lawmakers concluded the most recent legislative session with a balanced budget, a tax cut for 40,000 small businesses in Texas and billions of dollars in the Rainy Day Fund.
During his tenure, 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. In addition, he has used his line item veto to scrub more than $3 billion in spending from those budgets, while encouraging investments in the building blocks of a prosperous state: 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.
On the education front, Governor Perry has worked to improve the quality of Texas schools from top to bottom by increasing accountability, raising expectations and funding programs that work. In addition to introducing the largest teacher incentive pay program in the country, Governor Perry has overseen a 43 percent increase in total spending on public education in Texas. He also signed a school finance reform package that provided a 33 percent 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 to the tune 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, this effort has decreased crime in key areas by more than 60 percent.
Rick Perry’s political career started in 1985 as a representative for a rural West Texas district in the state House of Representatives. He was first elected to statewide office in 1990, and served as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture for two terms. Governor Perry hails from Paint Creek, a small farming community north of Abilene. His father, Ray Perry, served as a Haskell County Commissioner, school board member and a World War II tail gunner. 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 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 is an Eagle Scout and lifetime member of American Legion Post #75.
He first met 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.