K. McCaffrey – Whenever someone, particularly one with my political sympathies, asks me about my favorite states in the country, I usually say Florida, because of their lack of state income tax, and Texas, because it has a business friendly climate and some semblance of political sanity. So, I was quite saddened to see a recent headline that puts my confidence in Texas in jeopardy:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry delights in telling tales of his California “hunting trips” — hunting for businesses ready to flee the Golden State.

But the latest budget projections out of Texas have sharply changed the discussion: The Lone Star State is facing a budget gap of about $27 billion, putting it in the same league as California among states facing financial meltdowns. The gap amounts to roughly one-third of the state’s budget.”

The rest of the article has some fascinating details as to where a lot of the budget is going, and the fiscal makeup of Texas. One figure I found particularly pertinent was that Texas lags behind sixteen states in terms of “major research universities, patents produced, high-tech infrastructure and venture capital investment.”

“Even Perry’s claims of companies that have decamped from California to lay down roots in Texas appear to be overblown. When the Austin American-Statesman looked into the Texas governor’s boast that there were 153 such companies in 2010, reporters found the claim included California firms that stayed put but maybe opened a Texas branch. The newspaper concluded that Perry’s figure was grossly inflated.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know these details before. I still think that Texas is, generally, in the right direction and I believe doing things like encouraging more private businesses will, ultimately, lead to the success and growth they may have been inflating over the past few years. (In any case, that scenario seems more likely in Texas – whereas California’s pension system alone looks like certain doom.)

While Texas is apparently not immune to budget gaps, at least the government spending in Texas in ’08 was actually a smaller percentage of the economy than spending in ’87. California, on the contrary, had spending grow by 34% in the same period. I’m also quite glad to know that these details are coming to light, now the Governor and legislation can be held accountable for all the rhetoric they have been spewing about Texas as a maverick state without the same baggage of other big states like New York and California.

Clarification: In no way, shape, or form would I dare say Texas is ill-governed or in peril. Rather, I just found it surprising that they had policies like the 22 child per classroom rule, and that the decamping claim was overblown. It makes me a bit disappointed that they had mismanaged some facets, but I’m sure that they will manage.

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