It’s Not Better in Texas

I just got back from Texas the other day, after spending some time with my family.  And what do you know, I hear that LG Gavin Newsom and a crew of Republicans are heading down there to discover what is creating that awesome economy there that has got the state moving.

The problem with the whole “businesses are fleeing California” thing, is that is just one big myth fabricated out of nothing other than some political dreaming.  As Dave Johnson pointed out a few years ago, California jobs just aren’t fleeing.  And so it is appropriate that California’s leaders finally address this issue head on.

While a fair number of the people on this delegation were right-wing Republicans, Gavin Newsom is what you can fairly call a business friendly Democrat.  Not out to rid the world of all regulations, but certainly not somebody you can really attack for his embrace of those regulations. And frankly he’s not fond of Perry’s “hunting trips:”

“Candidly, the reason I came out here was out of frustration and admiration with some of the work that you’ve been doing,” Newsom said. “I’m sick and tired of Governor Perry coming to California all of the time.


Leading state officials in California have recently begun to ferociously counterattack the notion of the ‘Texas Miracle,’ pointing out with a certain amount of schadenfreude just how bad Texas’ budget problems are. According to a budget analysis done by the Houston Chronicle’s Texas Politics blog Texas’ budget crisis is proportionally as bad as California’s.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer told Los Angeles Times’ Evan Halper with evident satisfaction that “someone just turned the lights on in the bar, and the sexiest state doesn’t look so pretty anymore.” (SF Gate)

Let’s get one thing out of the way, in terms of the budget of each of the states, California is in no worse of a position than Texas.  Perhaps even better.  The relative numbers are about the same, but the difference is that Texas already has decimated their public systems.  The land grant colleges, principally the University of Texas, are pretty much relying on their (massive) endowment and get little support from the state.  Even if they are going to cut that $25B from their budget, which it looks like they will, it is really unclear how they do that in a way that doesn’t leave them in the hole for years to come.  How do you catch up when you have mortgaged your public education system?  Or do you just give up on those who can’t afford private schooling?

Texas isn’t the new California.  It’s just Texas.  They have their natural resources, which, wisely, were dedicated to the public universities generations ago, and we have ours.  Where we go in the next 6-12 months will go a long way in determing if we avoid going down the road that Texas is treading right now.

4 thoughts on “It’s Not Better in Texas”

  1. Texas’ unemployment is about the same as New York or Massachusetts.

    Texas’ reduced hit from the recent housing bubble can be attributed to the unusually strong mortgage regulation it has since the S&L crisis (Texas was a major center of that crisis).  California would probably be wise to emulate that.

    Oh, and they have a regular property tax.  Lets steal that one right away!

  2. Gavin Newsom is nothing by a self promoter

    And it works !!

    He got you to mention him

    Can you say ’empty suit’ ??

  3. This part of a larger meme about the inherent un-governability and profligacy of all blue states. It is so insidious it has been internalized even by centrist Californians more thoroughly than “liberal media bias”.  If George Lakoff is correct, Texas is the strict father to California’s nurturant parent.  This will persist in the minds of a large percentage of the population, but I also think this is an opportunity for CA to demonstrate yet again that government can be a means to promote independence, freedom and self-sufficiency.  This is one of the many reasons I think high speed rail is so important, and one of the reasons why conservative forces oppose it.  

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