What is it? A cool 92 today? You know lots of time when I speak I am often the last speaker before lunch or dinner and I always say, I am going to be brief because I am the only person standing between you and dinner or lunch. Today, I am the only person standing between you and air conditioning. So, I will be brief, Alonzo. I will be brief.
First of all, it is kind of fun for me because I came to Texas in 1979. My wife and I moved here then. I was a sportscaster. The other Dan Patrick is a little younger than me. I came here well before him, with Channel 11 in Houston. We used to come down to the Valley to visit. Sometimes to go across the border, we would shop here. I just loved the culture, I loved the food, I loved the people. And so today, before we flew down here, this morning, I said to Jan – we’ve been married 47 years, so it is long time – I said to Jan, when we moved here in 1979 with basically a television career, never thinking about government or politics, in your wildest dreams did you ever think one day I would be getting on a plane to go to the Valley to open a great medical facility as the lieutenant governor of Texas. In your wildest dreams, did you ever think that could happen? She said, honey, in 47 years of marriage I don’t want to burst your bubble but you have never been in any of my wildest dreams (applause). I don’t think that is good. I want to know, who has been. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, you know, who knows.
But it is an honor to be here. You know in government there are a lot of things that get a lot of attention. But the real work is really beneath all of the headlines and the interviews. It is on projects like today that can impact people’s lives. And so this project was brought to me with a number of other recommendations for the region. And it looked like this was the one where we would get the most bang for the buck and help the most people. Because it was time for the citizens of Starr County and the region to have a laboratory that they had not had before. And so this funding, I believe it was $16.7 million, which is not an insignificant amount of money that we put in the bill was supported by all 31 senators, that is 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats; (they) all came together for Starr County and for this project.
You see, Texas is the true leader of the world. The world needs a strong America and America needs a strong Texas. We are 29 million people strong. We’ve added 11 million people by calculation since the year 2000. So, we were 18 million people in 2000. We are not 29 million. And by the year 2045, which is not that far away, in the next couple of decades, we will be over 40 million people strong.
Texas can only be strong if every region of the state is strong. And if every county of our 254 is strong. And you have a great business community. I know Alonzo and DHR are involved. Elected leaders, the chambers, people from both parties, elected officials who really work for this region and every region is important, whether it is East Texas, or the Panhandle, or West Texas, or our big cities. We are a nation state. We are the ninth largest economy in the world. Our economy is much larger than that of Russia. And so we are as good as we are everywhere. Every person in Texas deserves a quality education, they deserve quality healthcare, and they deserve to be safe in their communities. That is the three issues that people want.
Give us a good education so we can live the American Dream and build a career and get the job we want. Go into the profession we want to pursue and the Valley has done a great job as the mayor and the judge lined out, coming a long way in the last ten or 20 years. But, it is a long way to go. This is rich in heritage, this region of the state. I love coming down here and I am glad I was able to play a small part in this. But, we are always going to be looking to make Texas as strong as we can. The Valley must be just as strong as the city of Houston or Dallas or West Texas or anywhere it is.
So, to all of you in healthcare… raise your hand if you are in the healthcare industry, nurses, doctors, whatever it may be. So, let me tell you something. You are the heroes of the pandemic. And there was another group, quite frankly, that I am always sure to reference. But let me start with you. Back in 2020 when the pandemic hit and we were all in the dark and we did not know what was ahead, you showed up for work everyday. You put your lives on the line. You took care of your patients. You did everything you could to help your citizens. I cannot think of anything more heroic because you did not know what the implications could be to your own health and your family’s health.
And I also, and they may not be here today, but I also salute all the grocery workers because, you know, everything else was closed for those first six months but you could go to the grocery store and there was somebody there to check out the groceries and stock the shelves. But, your profession was key.
I know this is the first of many medical facilities that will built in the Valley and I want you to know that Ryan Guillen could not be here. He is a great member. And I want you to know that your two senators. I know both of them do not cover the area but they work together, Chuy Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio, who is retiring, the senator. They really work hard for the Valley. So, I am honored to be here. It is a great day. It is a great day for me to see things that we do in the budget that really change lives and are really impactful to the community. So, we will always be here for the Valley. Thank you and God Bless. Thank you.
Editor’s Note: The above remarks were made by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new DHR Health medical development center in Rio Grande City. The center will include a medical laboratory, residency program and housing, medical offices and research facility.
Editor’s Note: The “Alonzo” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was referring to in his remarks was businessman Alonzo Cantu, co-founder of DHR Health.
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