Houston Mayor’s State of the City

The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, gave her annual State of the City address to a sold out Greater Houston Partnership crowd yesterday.

The TSU Ocean of Soul Marching Band put the crowd in a happy mood with a performance of joyful music and the Mayor continued to lift spirits.

The Mayor reported good news for Houston, Texas. She cited many of the media accolades the city has been receiving over the last couple of years, such as being the number 1 manufacturing city in the nation and being a top choice for the creative crowd as well as one of the 40 fastest growing cities in the world. Bottom line: Houston is booming.

The good news, she shared, is that this is coming home to city finances. After two very difficult budget years, she anticipates this year’s budget to avoid major lay-offs and closures of libraries and swimming pools.

She touted her successes and highlighted 5 pillars for the coming year.

Jobs and sustainable development
Public safety
Fiscal responsibility
Quality of life

Jobs and Sustainable development
The city has generated more than $1 billion in new economic development and more than 13,000 jobs. She will keep this growth going through use of tools at the city and partnering with the GHP and others.

The Mayor is moving to a longer-term planning process – looking 10 years down the road instead of 5. She also touted the passage of Rebuild Houston that will lead to street and drainage improvements. She said only Houstonians would pass an aggressive program like this during tough economic times.

Public Safety
The Mayor noted that Houston has the lowest murder rate per capita in our history (or as far as the records go back). She also discussed plans to build an independent forensic crime lab.

Fiscal Responsibility
While highlighting the better fiscal position of the City, she also touched on the sticky issue of pensions. This is the big ticket item that must be dealt with and she handled it cautiously in her speech by recognizing the hard work of city employees and indicating that they are valued.

Quality of Life
She described this as the umbrella over all the other pillars and the key to Houston’s success as a global city. She mentioned expanding green space and making the city more sustainable.

The best line in the speech was the ending: “As you leave here today, have faith that Houston is a city that works for today, invests in the future, welcomes change, meets challenges, and embraces the world.”

Personally, I thought it was the best speech she has given to date. You can read the full text on line here.

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