3/20/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be the keynote speaker at the 30th Annual John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2015, at Ashland University. Sponsored by the Ashbrook Center, this event has hosted many political leaders including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell and John Boehner.
The dinner program will be held in Ashland University’s John C. Myers Convocation Center. Tickets for this Ashbrook event are $250 per person. A limited number of VIP reception tickets are available for an additional cost. Tables of 10 are available in different price packages and include reception tickets, program recognition and preferred table location.
A fifth generation Texan, Gov. Perry has taken an extraordinary Texas journey, from a tenant farm in the rolling West Texas plains to the governor’s office of the nation’s second largest state.
Texas’ 47th governor (2000-2015), Perry has led a life of public service, starting in the United States Air Force and continuing over two decades in elected office.
Gov. Perry’s administration focused on creating a Texas of unlimited opportunity and prosperity by improving education, securing the border and increasing economic development through classic conservative values.
During his tenure, Gov. Perry maintained a strong focus on fiscal discipline, becoming the only Texas governor since World War II to sign budgets that reduced general revenue spending. He used his line item veto to scrub more than $3 billion in budgeted spending, while encouraging investments in the building blocks of a prosperous state: the economy, education and security.
The Texas economy thrived under Gov. Perry, thanks to a focused effort to keep taxes low, regulations predictable and legal system fair. He led the effort to reform the legal system, signing into law a series of lawsuit reforms designed to stem the flow of frivolous lawsuits through Texas courts. As a result, Texas employers can devote their resources to creating jobs instead of defending against frivolous lawsuits. More importantly, the reforms reversed the trend on skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates, which has led to an influx of doctors seeking to practice in Texas. As a result, obstetricians and other specialists are returning to practice in previously underserved, high-risk areas.
On the education front, Gov. Perry worked to improve the quality of Texas schools from top to bottom by increasing accountability, raising expectations and funding programs that work. In addition to introducing the largest teacher incentive pay program in the country, Gov. Perry oversaw a 43 percent increase in total spending on public education in Texas. He also signed a school finance reform package that provided a 33 percent school property tax reduction, a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, record funding for classrooms and a reformed business tax.
Stepping into the gap left by the federal government, Gov. Perry worked closely with the Texas legislature to fund coordinated border security efforts to the tune of more than $230 million over the last several years of his Administration.
He initiated a “boots on the ground” strategy, integrating and coordinating local, county, state and federal law enforcement efforts, resulting in significantly decreased crime in key areas along the border.
Perry’s political career started in 1985 as a representative for a rural West Texas district in the state House of Representatives. He was first elected to statewide office in 1990, and served as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture for two terms. Governor Perry hails from Paint Creek, a small farming community north of Abilene. His father, Ray Perry, served as a Haskell County Commissioner, school board member and a World War II tail gunner. Between 1972 and 1977, Governor Perry served in the United States Air Force, flying C-130 tactical airlift aircraft in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.
He is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a junior and senior yell leader and an animal science major. The younger of Ray and Amelia Perry’s two children, Gov. Perry is an Eagle Scout and lifetime member of American Legion Post #75.
He first met Anita Thigpen at a piano recital during their elementary school years. They married in 1982 and are the parents of two grown children — Griffin and Sydney. Griffin and his wife, Meredith, welcomed their first baby, Ella Gray Perry, in 2013.
The Ashbrook Center is an independent center at Ashland University dedicated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Ashbrook seeks to restore and strengthen the capacities of the American people for constitutional self-government. Through undergraduate, graduate and civic programs, the Ashbrook Center aspires to be the leading national educator in the enduring principles and practice of free government in the United States.