LAKE JACKSON — A man in a cowboy hat and at least one patron wearing a red, white and blue tie with small starred elephants were among the room full of Republicans in attendance to hear Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar speak about the state’s economy Saturday night.
“It’s great to be here to celebrate another Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner and think about what are values, principles and the direction our country is going,” the special guest speaker said. “I am much more excited the direction we are going now compared to where we were going, but we do still have a tremendous amount of work to be done.”
More than 150 people filled a large banquet room at the Lake Jackson Civic Center for the annual dinner, which the Brazoria County Republican Party has hosted since 1981.
The event’s master of ceremony, state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, kicked off the night noting its special significance falling on President’s Day weekend before introducing Hegar, who was elected in November 2014.
“He is Texas’ 36th comptroller, who serves as the treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer, and most importantly to Ed Thompson and I, our revenue estimator,” he said. “I’m going to be as nice as possible so he might find a few more dollars for us this session.”
Hegar mainly spoke of the state’s economy using jobs and unemployment as a way to compare Texas to not only other states but countries.
The comptroller noted how back before oil prices took a dive, about 1 1/2 to almost two years ago, the Lone Star State’s economy was the 12th largest in the world.
According to the sixth-generation Texan, the state recently lost 160,000 jobs between the oil and manufacturing industry. However, Texas still has managed to do better than other energy states, Hegar said.
“All of the other states still are negative in job creation, and in fact last summer, when we were looking at the data, I was very surprised Texas was unfortunately not the 12th largest economy anymore — we were the 10th largest,” he said.
Texas has gained jobs in 20 out of the last 21 months, Hegar said, adding some of the months there were only about 1,000 jobs created while others it was around 35,000.
The state’s economy over the last 20 years has grown on average 3.8 percent, Hegar said, highlighting the fact it has outgrown the U.S. economy.
“In fact, if you go back to jobs real quick, we had a lower unemployment level than that of the national average for a 120 months in a row, so Texas has been doing something right,” he said.
The continued job creation, despite the bumps in the oil industry, also attests to how the state’s economy has become more diverse and resilient, the comptroller said.
“The older I get the more I realize Texas is a pretty good place to call home, and if the rest of the nation would do things like us, we would be a lot better off,” he said.
After Hegar’s speech, Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown recognized the state appellate justices in attendance as well as Harris County’s Judge Grant Dorfman.
The party then honored Beverly Stricker of the Angleton Republican Women, and state Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland, by inducting them into the Hall of Honor for their dedication and leadership helping to grow the party in Brazoria County.
Stricker, who was so emotional she could barely speak, thanked the party, stating she does it for the children.
Thompson also spoke of what motivates him and what he tells people when they ask why ran for office.
“I give them the names of my four grandchildren because I want them to inherit the same Texas I was lucky enough to grow up in,” he said. “I believe it is incumbent to keep the principles that make Texas great and be the people that God called us to be.”