Rick Perry's Texas Fantasyland

Rick Perry's Texas is a job-makin', low-taxin' oasis of economic growth. It's also a fantasy.

These major demographic shifts, continental in dimension, have provided Texas with significant windfalls, Weinstein says. Perry claiming credit for these is like the baton major strutting in front of the circus parade and pretending he's the one deciding where to turn.

"At least for the last 40 years, Texas has led the nation in population growth and job creation," Weinstein says. "So if there is a Texas economic miracle, it started long before Rick Perry."

Does saying that Texas is "business-friendly" mean the state is unlike the rest of the country in some significant way, something important enough to make Texas more prosperous than America? Academic studies and the testimony of people involved in shaping the state's economy say no. Instead, Texas is much more like the rest of the country than it used to be but maybe a little worse at being that way than others.

Since the financial collapse of 1987, Texas has been doing what everybody else has been doing: seeking new high-tech and information-based industries, in large part by investing in public education and research. Not only does Perry not get credit for that effort but also his critics, and even some of his friends, worry that he is presiding over a Tea Party–inspired dismantling of it.

Texas used to be different but not in a way many people in the state remember fondly. The collapse of the state's economy in the late 1980s laid bare a parochial business climate that had failed to keep its own house in order. In the run-up to the crisis, local banks took cash from an oil boom and used it to play real estate poker. They made many bad bets. When the bubble burst, almost all of the locally owned banks in the state's major cities collapsed, and real estate values disappeared into the dirt. It was a sobering time.

After the bust, Weinstein says, talk shifted to the state's need to diversify, to get off the oil and real estate bottles. Looking back, he says the devastation wrought by the bust sort of took care of the diversification issue on its own. "The economy diversified itself," he says, "because as energy and real estate and agriculture shrank, the state's economy de facto became more diversified."

In attempting to diversify, though, Texas became much more like everybody else in terms of public policy. There was "a rush to the adoption of public policies to stimulate economic growth," Weinstein says. "So we got legislation in Austin allowing local government to give away tax base.

"Prior to the energy bust and the real estate collapse, we didn't have things like economic-development sales taxes and property-tax abatements, emerging technology funds, the Texas Enterprise Fund," he says of states' efforts to lure companies across their borders. "We didn't do that stuff. A lot of other states did, but we didn't, because, number one, we never needed to, and number two, well, gosh, that's state socialism. But nonetheless, we started doing all that stuff."

In its pursuit of new industries, the state didn't just give away tax money. It also levied record-high new taxes and put the new revenue into public education and university research. At roughly the same time, an important court ruling forced the state to share education funding more equitably among rich and poor school districts.

Paul Colbert, now an education consultant in Houston, served in the Texas legislature with Perry in the late '80s and early '90s. He points to a legislative session in 1987 in which Perry, then still a Democrat, joined a majority in both parties in passing a record-setting tax increase. With that money, Colbert says, "we did several things that turned the economy around, intentionally. One of them was that we didn't cut funding for public education.

"Number two, we made a conscious effort to focus on payments to higher education in the areas of research funding, in particular in the areas of creating spin-off from university research and economic development that basically resulted in creating what they now refer to as the Silicon Hills of Austin."

As a result, companies started moving headquarters or significant operations to the Austin area, including Dell Computers, NVidia, 3M, and Apple Inc.—so many that the direct American Airlines flight from Austin to San José, California, now discontinued, was called the "Nerd Bird."

There were other payoffs from the state's investment in education. Texas public school students made significant strides on achievement tests. "If you go back to the early 1990s," Colbert says, "there was a Rand study, the first of a number of Rand studies, that indicated that Texas had basically jumped well ahead of the pack in education. If you went demographic subgroup by demographic subgroup, we were well ahead."

Texas has not remained faithful to these efforts under Perry. Lawmakers in recent years have relentlessly dialed back support for public education and devised ways to escape court-ordered revenue-sharing for poor districts. Some of the big test-score gains of the '90s turned out to be based on cheating. Still, achievement seems to be headed south. And that was all before this year.

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13 comments
Crazyyy_Girls_90
Crazyyy_Girls_90

@money......This is crаzy...Sistеr's girlfriеnd mаkes 73 hоurly оn the PC. Shе hаs bееn firеd frоm wоrk fоr 11 mоnths but lаst mоnth her pаychеck wаs 7756 USD just wоrking on thе PC for a fеw hоurs. Rеаd аbоut it on this wеb sitе......http://alturl.com/nguui

Mr B
Mr B

Significantly, TexASS and AlASSka are the two biggest welfare receiving states in the Union. Naturally, both are Republican.

Perry objected to President Obama's stimulus program but eagerly took a huge check from the Federal government in order to lessen the state's deficit. But anyone who knows Repukeblican politricks would not be surprised at that.

Community Organizer
Community Organizer

I find it impressive that Gov. Rick Perry can somehow convince people to get off their azz and go to work for low pay, rather than just remain at home collecting welfare at taxpayers expense.

Well Done!

Shaun Costello
Shaun Costello

PERRY AND GOP HOPEFULS CRAWL ON KNEES BEFORE RELIGIOUS FANATICS - BEGGING FOR APPROVALIt's a sad commentary to the state of our Republic, that these GOP Presidential hopefuls feel the need to come crawling before a gathering of Evangelicals in the hope of gaining approval and support. Evangelicals, most of whom seem to have one foot in a staight jacket, have taken over the selection process for the Republican Party. This is exactly the kind of political mayhem that Jefferson warned us about, and took action to prevent. The nominee of the Republican Party has to cowtow to religious fanatics in order to get nominated. The Evangelical agenda includes; the reversal of Roe v Wade, prayer in public schools, the end of stem cell research, making homosexuality a crime, and legislating a National Religion - theirs. Oh, and influencing Cabinet appointments. For Secretary of State - how about Robert Tilton, or Jimmy Swaggert, or Pat Robertson, whichever one of them isn't under current indictment for tax fraud. The clock is ticking for the Christian Storybook. Only right wing America takes them seriously. The rest of the world is laughing.Read this:http://shauncostello.wordpress...

Strelnikov
Strelnikov

I don't feel Perry will make it....from what I can tell, the GOP has two "finisher" candidates, one they want, the other the base wants. The Central Committee's man is Mitt Romney; the average GOPster seems to want Ron Paul. We will see if the "Paultards" win.

All that written, this is a good article on how much of a BS artist Rick Perry is, and how Texas is trying to catch up to California.

mrearlygold
mrearlygold

perry is just another necon scumbag.

Vote Ron Paul in 2012 or more of the same. If you like what the country has become elect another democrat or republican. If you desire real freedom and real opportunities, rally behind Ron Paul who is as close to a founding father as we're ever going to see. Time is running out!

DonnaThompson
DonnaThompson

..........I can't believe....My best friend's mom makes $77 an hour on

the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month

her check was $5487 just working on the computer for a few hours.

Read about it here CashMany.com .......

Debra2
Debra2

Well... some GENERAL comments...I didn't vote in the last general election. I decided that the American public was not voting for a president ; it was choosing a King.Barack certainly got that feeling too, given the way he has been behaving recently.In about ten years of work against the death penalty, I noticed that increasingly, the FEDERAL courts were bending farther and farther backwards to insist on STATE'S RIGHTS.After a while, the inevitable conclusion is that the union has fallen apart, is falling apart ?When you're IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, just how do you know ??I call the country "the disunited states" these days. Rick Perry is championing a bunch of disgruntled people (but shouldn't we ALL be disgruntled these days, the decadence goes far beyond American borders, you know, to touch Western civilization as a whole) who somewhat confusedly perceive that the long, slow rise of scientific rationalism that began during the Renaissance has FINALLY run out of steam, and is not FUELING our desire for hope/faith now. It has petered out.It kind of puts things into perspective when you try to remember that the U.S. was founded as a European UTOPIAN experiment. The United States was SUPPOSED to be pie in the sky. If that isn't a Messianic proposition, I don't know what is.I can forgive Rick Perry for sounding irrational these days when it is hard to know which side is up in our culture.As for the jobs... when the Industrial Revolution got revving, there were small numbers of people in England who RIGHTLY perceived that those AUTOMATIC machines would destroy work that would probably NOT BE REPLACED. They were called Luddites, and THEY started destroying the machines. They were brutally repressed.MORE JOBS for MORE PEOPLE is part of the underlying expansionist logic that fuels the consumer/industrial society.We need NEW ATTITUDES towards work, and the lack of it at the time.We need to think beyond that old Protestant work ethic that was part of our utopian identity.CAN WE DO IT ? ....

Guest
Guest

I double-posted THAT?

Alexgunther
Alexgunther

Democrats who can't find anything good about our current situation in this country have no other choice but to try and convince everyone that the presidential options for 2012 are ......gasp! Even worse! you chose Obama, he lives in a fantasy land that is drowning in more debt with less jobs than 3 years ago!

Joseph
Joseph

Refuting the economists professors claim that Texas is business friendly with uncredited statements like "Does saying that Texas is "business-friendly" mean the state is unlike the rest of the country in some significant way, something important enough to make Texas more prosperous than America? Academic studies and the testimony of people involved in shaping the state's economy say no." makes this article come off like a hit piece.

President Perry
President Perry

Texas is a fantasyland because we seceded from Heaven. We're goin' back soon as the oil runs out. @PresPerry

 
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