George P. Bush on his first 100 days at the Texas General Land Office
As prepared for delivery:
Hello, I’m George P. Bush. A little more than a hundred days ago, I took the oath of office as the 28th Land Commissioner of Texas. And as I said that day, what happens here in Texas matters everywhere.
That’s because throughout our proud history, Texas has changed the world. It’s been said that every state has a story, but Texas has a legend. From the cattle ranchers who drove longhorn up the Chisholm Trail to feed America … to the wildcatters who dug deep into the desolate sands of West Texas and found black gold … to the scientists and engineers of NASA and now the Silicon Prairie — what happens in Texas changes the world.
But more important than what we do, is who we are. And more significant than our history, is our future.
No, Texas isn’t just a place on a map … it’s an idea in the hearts of our people.
And so at the Land Office, we got busy on day one working for the people of Texas. We wanted to transform the General Land Office and use it to help Texans pursue their dreams.
Many times elected officials announce what they plan to do in their first 100 days in office. I wanted to visit with you after the first 100 days to talk about what we’ve already done.
One of the most important priorities for me is accountability to the voters of Texas. You deserve to know what your elected officials are doing to create a better future. That’s why I am issuing this ‘100 Day’ report. I made a promise to the people of Texas that I would enact policies that would not just make a statement, but make a difference.
In the first 100 days, we’re off to a strong start. We have changed the way the GLO does business in all of the major areas that I campaigned on: the Alamo, veterans, education and energy.
So let me visit with you about what we’ve been able to achieve in the first 100 days.
First, we have made major steps forward to preserve and protect the Alamo. We are reforming our service providers to transform the Alamo experience and take it to the next level. But while we are changing, the owners of the Alamo will always stay the same — and that’s the people of Texas.
We’ve also reconstituted the Alamo Endowment Board with a prestigious panel of great Texans. And they will help us launch a massive fundraising drive to address the Alamo’s preservation needs and build an Alamo Museum and Visitor’s Center worthy of the Phil Collins collection.
And — for the first time ever — the state is working together with city leaders in San Antonio to hammer out a vision for the Alamo Plaza Historic District and the Alamo Complex. Together, we will create a strategic vision and work toward our common goal of restoring the Shrine of Texas Liberty to a site worthy of its noble roots.
The story of the Alamo defenders and their defiance against tyranny define our state’s very character. Their final stand continues to inspire visitors from across our state, the nation, and around the world to visit the Alamo, eager to hear about what kind of men would rather die free than live oppressed.
One hundred days in, and we are off to a great start in our effort to make sure we always remember the Alamo.
Second, we are making progress to help our veterans. After World War II, the Texas Veterans Land Board was created to help returning soldiers, sailors and airmen — men like my grandfather — attain the American Dream they had defended overseas. Today, we still strive to honor their service. But we are also reaching out to help a new generation of Texas veterans — the men and women I served with — returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m proud to report that in our first 100 days, we’re doing a better job of serving those who have served us.
We’ve raised the VLB land loan limit from $100,000 to $125,000, making it easier for Texas veterans to pursue their dreams of homeownership, business leadership, and economic security.
We’ve created a new website for our vets, streamlined our services and access to benefits, and are right now leading a coordinated, multi-agency effort to staff a 1–800 call center to serve all veterans needs, all the time.
And I was honored to testify in favor of State Senator Jane Nelson’s legislation to create a grant program designed to help communities across Texas provide mental health services for veterans — legislation the Texas Senate passed unanimously.
One hundred days in, we are doing right by our veterans.
Third, we are making a difference in education. I know that the Texas of tomorrow is being shaped in the classrooms of today.
That’s why we have launched a new, easy to navigate, GLO education website, providing tools for Texas teachers on subjects ranging from pollution control to Texas history.
And I am using our platform at the GLO to champion school reform. The GLO operates the Permanent School Fund that provides money to Texas schools. So who better to talk about reforming schools than your Land Commissioner who also happens to be a former teacher? I have spoken out about the need for greater accountability and more results. I am fighting to give parents a choice when it comes to their child’s education. I’m supporting Houston’s Representative Jim Murphy, who is working to exempt charter schools from ad valorem property taxes when they lease a facility and to allow public charter schools their fair share of the Permanent School Fund bond capacity when financing their expansions. Combined, these two measures would save millions, allowing charter schools to focus their resources on educating children.
Public charter schools can help close the achievement gap in our inner-city public schools. I know it’s possible because I saw it happen when I was the Tarrant County chairman for Uplift Education, a charter school organization.
So I will continue to champion school choice; after all, when we give parents a choice we give students a chance. A chance to succeed. A chance for a future.
One hundred days in, we have a great report card on education.
Finally, we are making an impact on energy policy. Texas powers the nation. When private oil and gas companies develop Permanent School Fund minerals, it not only creates high-paying jobs, it earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year for public education in Texas. So we have been busy promoting more development and doing so in an environmentally responsible way.
That’s why we are conducting energy lease sales online for the first time, making the bidding process more accessible, efficient and ensuring that Texas schoolchildren get the most out of the Permanent School Fund’s assets. And that’s why we are leading a multi-agency effort to rebuild the southeast Texas coastline, to protect sensitive estuarial systems, our natural habitat, and making sure the Intracoastal Waterway remains unimpeded for commercial and recreational use.
One hundred days in, we are doing our part to make oil and gas drilling more effective at the same time we are protecting our environment.
So … the Alamo, veterans, education, energy. These were the main issues I promised the people of Texas I would focus on in office. And we have done exactly that in the first 100 days.
But just as important as what we have done is how we have done it. We are making government efficiency and transparency a major hallmark of our work. I know that for most people, seeing is believing when it comes to government efficiency. The people deserve to see what their government is doing. And so in the first 100 days we have taken unprecedented steps to create a more open, more transparent, more accountable GLO.
For the first time in its storied history, the Texas General Land Office has a Director of Open Government. This director responds promptly to all requests for information from the GLO under the Texas Public Information Act, letting citizens and media know what their government is doing, and why.
We cleaned up GLO contracting processes, eliminating no-bid contracts in nearly all circumstances. Government must operate transparently, openly and fairly.
And we created a Compliance Division to monitor our contracting process to ensure transactions are accomplished cleanly and fairly across the agency and to promote new opportunities with Historically Underutilized Businesses.
Government must adapt to serve Texans more efficiently. That’s why we have taken an entrepreneurial approach to our business processes and use of technology. And we’ve made rapid advancement across the agency.
We’ve established the GLO’s first agencywide social media platform, to better serve Texans by showing how our Agency defends the coast, provides benefits to veterans, preserves our history or earns money for our schools.
We initiated Texas Shores, the first digital access guide for more than three thousand miles of Texas beach and bay shoreline, reducing publication costs while delivering an app that all Texans can use. Texas beaches are one of the state’s great attractions, and one of its great economic engines. Texas Shores will be the digital guide to the Texas coast, showing visitors from across Texas and the world what our coast has to offer.
We’ve created mobile phone apps that let our coastal staff gather data in the field. We’ve automated the business process for our Disaster Recovery Division, eliminating manual data entry and improving efficiency.
The GLO does important work, and it’s important that we do it well.
So in our first 100 days, we truly have transformed the GLO … and we are just getting started. To learn more about what we have been up to these first few months, check out www.yourTXGLO.com and read all about it. You, the people of Texas, are our shareholders. And this website is our shareholders’ report to you.
I want to thank you again for the honor of serving you as your Land Commissioner. This is just the beginning. Together, we are going to create an even bigger, brighter and better future for all Texans.
Thank you and God Bless Texas.