Economy: Texas’ line in the quicksand
Remember the Alamo?
Wanna buy it?
OK, it's not really for sale. At least not yet.
But someone has messed with Texas. And if something isn't done, they really will be turning out the lights in the Lone Star State.
The Times' Evan Halper reported Monday on Texas' $27-billion budget hole. Apparently its low-tax, less-regulation model isn't working any better than California's high-tax, regulation-heavy model.
Seems to me we're running out of models. Communism, anyone?
Texas hid its problems until now with its own version of the two-step: a two-year budget cycle. So, while last year Republicans trumpeted the state's success versus the mess that Democrat-run California had become, in reality the rot had already set in -- something familiar to homeowners in, say, that garden spot, Houston.
Oh, and despite Republican cries about government spending, it turns out that last year's shortfall was papered over by -- federal stimulus dollars!
Speaking of the Alamo, legend has it that its doomed commander, William Travis, called together his men on the eve of the final assault by Mexican troops, drew a line in the sand and challenged those who wanted to stay and fight to step across.
That decision, of course, got all of them killed.
What is it with Texans and sand? Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst apparently wants to go Travis one better and kill an entire industry. He cited the cost of millions of dollars to put sand on Texas beaches for tourists as an example of wasteful government spending.
Residents of Corpus Christi, step over this line if you want your town to die!
Luckily for Texas (and unlike California), it has $9 billion in oil tax revenue in a rainy day fund.
Unluckily for Texans, someone forgot to define “rainy day” for state lawmakers. They say it wouldn’t be responsible to spend that money now.
They’re apparently waiting for a real emergency. Like when the University of Texas needs to buy a better quarterback.
Gov. Rick Perry has a plan, though. He visits California regularly, seeking to lure businesses to Texas. He was here recently, while his state suffered rolling power blackouts. Which California hasn't suffered since Enron went under.
Anyway, Perry tries to sell companies on Texas' business-friendly climate.
Which is about all he has to sell.
For, as famed Civil War Gen. Philip Sheridan once said: "If I owned Texas and hell, I would rent out Texas and live in hell."
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Credit: Eric Gay / Associated Press