Texas Is a Shining Example of Right-Wing Governance in Action and That's Why It's a Complete Basket-Case
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But perhaps the most laughable claim in this whole narrative is that Texas has been “fiscally responsible.” Perry certainly adhered to the conservative playbook, offering massive tax breaks without the deep cuts in services that might inspire a voter backlash. As a result – an entirely predictable one – the Austin American-Statesman reported that “state lawmakers have spent much of the year grappling with a budget shortfall that left them $27 billion short of the money needed to continue current state services.”
CNN adds that while Perry was railing against the Democratic stimulus package passed over the fierce resistance of conservatives, the state “was facing a $6.6 billion shortfall for its 2010-2011 fiscal years,” and “it plugged nearly all of that deficit with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act money.” The stimulus package created or saved 205,000 jobs in Texas, second only to California. But as James Galbraith told AlterNet, while “the state budget has not yet been cut drastically” due to the stimulus boost, “the key phrase is 'not yet.'” Now that the stimulus has run its course, “if projections for the current budget cycle are correct, things will get much worse in the next year.”
Indeed, those cuts are now on their way. The Texas legislature imposed draconian cuts to Medicaid, cut tuition aid to 43,000 low-income students and is weighing $10 billion in cuts to the state's education system. According to Texas state senator Rodney Ellis, D-Fort Bend, the 2012-2013 budget will underfund “health and human services in Texas by $23 billion, 29.8 percent below what is needed to maintain current services.”
But Perry's tax breaks are indeed part of the state's jobs picture; as T ime m agazine's Massimo Calabresi noted, Perry established several massive business tax breaks “designed to lure companies from other states.”
[But] the funds have been controversial. They have channeled millions of dollars to companies whose officers or investors are major Perry campaign donors and Perry has allowed them to keep their subsidies in many cases even when they fail to deliver promised jobs. More important for the purposes of judging Perry’s job-creating record, even those that do produce jobs don’t necessarily create long-lasting ones, or increase the state’s overall prosperity.
In a report written for Perry last spring, Michael Porter of Harvard Business School noted that such tax breaks “ultimately don’t support long-term prosperity,” because companies that can move easily “are looking for the best deal and when the deal runs out they move” again, taking their jobs with them.
He also found that Texas’ per capita income growth was the eighth slowest of any state in the country between 1998 and 2008. That's because, as the American Independent 's Patrick Brendel noted, “Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage,” and the number of crappy jobs has exploded while this supposed Texas Miracle was taking place. “From 2007 to 2010, the number of minimum wage workers in Texas rose from 221,000 to 550,000, an increase of nearly 150 percent,” wrote Brendel. As a result, Texas is now “tied with Mississippi for the greatest percentage of minimum wage workers, while California had among the fewest (less than 2 percent).”*
At a fundraiser this week, Rick Perry, who despite toying with the idea of secession in the past may now be eying a White House bid, told a group of Republican fat-cats that in his state, “you don't have to use your imagination, saying, 'What'll happen if we apply this or that conservative principle?' You just need to look around, because they've been in play across our state for years, generating real results.”