RICK PERRY, a fifth generation Texan, hails from Paint Creek, a small farming community where farming, ranching and public service run in his family. Between 1972 and 1977, he served in the U.S. Air Force flying C-130 tactical airlift aircraft. Perry graduated from Texas A&M University in1972, where he was a member of the corps of cadets, a junior and senior yell leader, and an animal science major. From 1985 to 1991, he served in the Texas House of Representatives. Perry was elected commissioner of agriculture in 1990, and served two terms. As lieutenant governor, Perry worked with legislators to pass a balanced budget that included record tax cuts, teacher pay raises, and a historic school funding increase.
Perry was sworn in as the 47th governor of Texas on December 21, 2000, and was elected to a four-year term in November 2002. Perry has focused on initiatives to improve education and the job climate, keep taxes low, and ensure disciplined state spending. In 2003, he joined legislators of both parties in passing a balanced budget without a tax hike despite a $10 billion shortfall. This budget increased education and healthcare spending despite tough economic times, and invested in jobs with the new $295 million Texas Enterprise Fund. Perry also signed the nation's most sweeping lawsuit reforms to address skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates. Since the law's signing, hospitals and doctors have experienced insurance savings, and obstetricians and specialists are returning to practice in previously high-risk areas.
Through Perry's efforts, the number of children with health insurance under Medicaid and CHIP has more than doubled since 1999, and has increased by more than 100,000 since January 2003. He signed legislation allowing small businesses to pool together to offer affordable health insurance policies, and also reduced the number of mandates for private sector policies. Perry's transportation plan, the Trans Texas Corridor, provides thousands of miles of new roads, new rail lines, and room for petroleum and electric lines, water lines and broadband technology. This proposal, along with new renewable energy requirements and emissions reduction legislation, will help clean the air in urban areas. Perry's vision for school finance reform focuses on results-based incentives; cutting, capping and controlling property taxes; providing greater equity; and protecting the job climate. Perry is a lifetime member of American Legion Post #75 and the Perrys are members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin. Perry and his wife Anita have two children.