Greg Abbott

Third Gubernatorial Inaugural Address

delivered 17 January 2023, Austin, Texas

 

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Well, thank you all very much. And thank you to my fellow Texans. Thank you for your support and thank you for the trust that you have placed in me to lead our great state for four more years.

I want to thank Chief Justice Hecht for administering the oath of office.

I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan for their leadership. I want to say thanks to all of the statewide officials and members of the legislature. Let me tell you something: We are going to work together this session to keep Texas the land of opportunity in the United States of America.

So, God has blessed me with a wonderful family, including my extraordinary wife, the fabulous First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott. During her service as the First Lady, she has championed Texans who were most in need, such as children in foster care and working to end the scourge of human trafficking in Texas. She and I share a constant ray of sunshine in our lives, our remarkable daughter, Audrey Abbott.

I also want to thank and recognize her family members onstage with us here today: Dr. Letitia Phalen; her brother Joseph Phalen; and Joseph's wife Yvette. Thank you all for being here.

One thing we cannot emphasize enough -- and that is, all Americans are heirs to the freedom that is secured by the men and women who have worn the uniform of the mightiest military in the history of the entire world. My brother, Gary, is among them -- having served in the United States Navy for 20 years, including flying combat missions in the first Gulf War. He is here today with his wife, Denise.

Also with us here today are our State and and National Guard, who are leading the charge to secure our border. They are led by Major General Suelzer, who is here today. Thank you Major General for being here and thank you for your service.

The reason why we have the freedom to celebrate inaugurations in the first place is because we have courageous men and women who put on that uniform and fought for freedom across the entire world. And they deserve our gratitude. If there is anybody here who has ever worn the uniform of the United States military, would you please stand or wave your hand so we can thank you for your service to the United States of America.

As most everybody here knows, we have a state song. And our state song, "Texas, Our Texas," was played earlier today by mighty Houston Cougar Band. Thank you all very much for doing that. Our state song is a hymn. It's a hymn that glorifies the exceptionalism of our state. We work every day to live up to that exceptionalism. The song begins like this -- and don't fear at all because there's no chance I'm going to sing it to you. But let me just recite it, the first few words because the words are important to who we are as a people.

It begins,

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.1

By the grace of God, we have fulfilled that aspiration to be that "mighty state" that is declared in our state song.

Texas is America's undisputed economic leader, providing pathways to prosperity for all Texans. Our 2 trillion dollar economy is now the ninth-largest economy in the entire world. Texas is number one in America in producing the food, the fiber, and the fuel that we use every day. The gas that you put in your truck, the jeans that you wear, the steak you eat for dinner -- all of it is made in Texas. "Made in Texas" is the mightiest brand in America, and we use it everyday 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. Texas is now home to more Fortune 500 company headquarters than any other state in America. Texas -- Texas is now the headquarters of headquarters. We consistently rank number one in economic development and we lead the nation in job growth. We're number one in semiconductor manufacturing. We have the world's largest medical center. And we export more products than any other state. Texas is providing opportunity that people cannot get anywhere else in the United States.

Now, 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, more Hispanic women business owners, more veteran business owners than anywhere else in the United States of 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. What that does is it puts more Texans on the pathway to prosperity, through higher wages and through unparalleled opportunities.

Now, our great economy has produced another record. We now have the largest budget surplus that we've ever had in the history of our great state. But make no mistake -- that surplus does not belong to government. It belongs to the taxpayers. And we will use that budget surplus to provide the largest property tax cut in the history of the state of Texas.

Our state song goes on to proclaim that we are the "boldest" and the "grandest." Just as early pioneers explored our vast frontier, our modern pioneers are boldly exploring our vast universe. The first words 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 the 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 that we drive on, the water that we use at home and in our fields, and the ports that we use to ship products around the entire globe.

Our state is so grand, we now have more than 30 million people who call Texas home. By 2050, there will be more than 50 million. People from across America, they 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 -- and you all know the line: "You may all go to Hell. I am going to Texas!"

Texas has also lived up to the next line of our song that we "withstand every test." Let me highlight just one. Last session, I signed 14 bipartisan laws that fixed the flaws in our power grid.2 Last summer, we set 11 all-time power generation records. And last month, we weathered a brutally freezing temperatures [sic] across the state -- all without any disruptions to the grid. Since our bipartisan reforms, no Texan has lost power because of our grid. But we all know that increased demand is going to be placed on the grid as Texas continues to grow. So, this session we will build a grid that powers our state not for the next four years but but for the next 40 years.

The next line of our great 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. And 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 are number one for National Blue Ribbon Schools, and we are 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 be pushing social agendas. Our schools must get back to teaching our students the fundamentals. We must -- We must reform curriculum to get kids back to learning the basics, and empower parents with the tools to challenge that curriculum when it falls short of expectations. And no one knows what is better for their child's education than their parents. Those parents deserve the freedom to choose the education that is 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 going to be safe when they drop them off at school every single 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 where it says: "God bless you Texas, and keep you brave and strong." In Texas, we believe in law and order, and in Texas we support our law enforcement officers. Period!

When our law enforcement officers put on that badge and go into the line of duty every single day, they've put their lives on the line every single day for the rest of us. And they rarely get the appreciation they deserve. So I just want to say, if there's anybody at this event here today who, now or has ever, worn the badge of law enforcement -- would you please stand, so we can appreciate you for your service. Thank you.

Let's -- Last session, we passed a law that did more than show our appreciation. We passed a law to put it in place. Last session, we passed a law that will defund any city that defunds their police. This session, we must end the easy bail policies that let dangerous criminals back out onto our streets. We must impose mandatory sentences on criminals caught with guns, and mandatory sentences on anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants in Texas.

Make no mistake -- the border is a crisis for one simple reason: The Biden Administration is not enforcing the laws that are already on the books. As a result, more illegal immigrants crossed our border last year than any year in the history of the United States of America. In fact, over the past two years more illegal immigrants crossed our 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. Texas is the only state to build our own border wall. We are deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers to enforce the law at the border. And we are targeting the Mexican drug cartels who 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 our border. DPS has seized enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States of America. In Harris County alone, one person dies a day because of fentanyl.

There are parents with us here today who lost a child to fentanyl. They know that we are incapable of bringing back their child, but their hearts cling to the hope that their loss is not going to be in vain. They deserve action -- action that will save other innocent families from the devastation they have suffered, and they will get that action this session.

The hopes of those parents rest upon the leaders in this capitol. Our job is to deliver solutions for our fellow Texans. And, by God, that is exactly what we are going to do this session.

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 the tools they need to be the future entrepreneurs, scientists, and artists that will shape Texas for the legends to come in the next generation; 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 future and then be able to achieve it.

Today, we gather on the threshold of a legislative session that's going to transform the lives of Texans for generations. Together, we are going to build the Texas of tomorrow, not for just the next four years but for the next century. Together, we are going to ensure that Texas remains the greatest state in the greatest country the world has ever known.

Thank you all.

God bless you all.

And may God forever bless the great State of Texas.


1 Truncated. Full text version:

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.

Texas, O Texas! Your freeborn single star,
Sends out its radiance to nations near and far,
Emblem of Freedom! It sets our hearts aglow,
With thoughts of San Jacinto and glorious Alamo.

God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.

Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free
Shine forth in splendor your star of destiny
Mother of heroes, we come your children true.
Proclaiming our allegiance, our faith, our love for you.

God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.

2 For analyses of the Texas power grid, see here, here, and here

Page Updated: 1/19/23

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Uncertain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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