|AUSTIN, July 14 - America is the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.
That is because we have the mightiest military in the history of the world. And Texas is the greatest force for job creation in the nation. That is because we have the most vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in the country that promotes job growth.
We can make Texas even better if we do more to connect the job growth in our state with the many veterans who call Texas home. As governor, I will do that.
More than one million Texans have worn a uniform in the U.S. Armed Forces. Many others now call Texas home.
Even though we lead the nation in job creation, the unemployment rate for our military veterans is too high and actually rose last year in Texas. It is highest among veterans who have returned home since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is unacceptable.
I have a plan that will employ more veterans in Texas.
By lowering financial barriers, we can help veterans grow new jobs for themselves and for others.
That is why I will recommend new businesses started by veterans be exempt from paying state franchise taxes for the first five years. I will also ask the Legislature to exempt new veteran-owned businesses from having to pay registration fees to the state to open their businesses.
My plan also calls for state licensing agencies to waive licensing exams and licensing fees for veterans with the required education, training and practical experience. For many of our veterans, military service has included learning a skilled trade—such as an electrician, a technician, a lineman. That training is often as good as—if not better—than what the state requires for occupational licensing. If the occupational skillset is good enough for the U.S. military, it should be good enough for Texas.
I will also call on the Texas Legislature to authorize property tax exemptions for commercial property owners who employ honorably discharged veterans. These exemptions will be powerful financial incentives for Texas employers to hire more of our well-trained veterans.
Finally, part of helping our veterans land jobs is helping them improve their health care. No veteran who has fought for this country should suffer the indignity of being denied health care due to bureaucratic bungling by the Veterans Health Administration.
While campaigning for votes in South Texas in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised “a V.A. hospital right here in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Well, Mr. President, Texas veterans are still waiting, and I am calling on you to keep your word. It’s time to build that V.A. hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. Our veterans deserve better care.
They have been there to serve us. It is our turn to serve our veterans, active duty military and their families.
That is why I will also implement strategic planning to prevent base closures in Texas during the next phase of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. And I will work with community and military leaders to develop a plan that will improve infrastructure, job training and educational opportunities for military families.
I continue to be inspired by my brother, who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, and by every veteran I meet. It is through the fire of your sacrifice that our freedom has been preserved.
As governor, I will make Texas even better for our veterans. Please read more about my plans to create more jobs for our military veterans at TexasBlueprint.com.
And may God continue to bless all who wear the uniform of the United States of America.
Greg Abbott is the attorney general of Texas. He is the Republican nominee for Governor of Texas.