It seems that whenever conservatives raise the problems of California as an example of the failures of the big-government pro-public employee union policies of Democrats, they will instantly chime in and remind us of Texas’s budget woes. Paul Krugman did it in a recent column. When I posted recently on California’s problems, one of our critics quickly brought up Texas (which I had not mentioned in the post). Friday night, when I confronted an area state Assemblyman who spoke at my synagogue, reminding her of the problems of public employee unions and the unfavorable business climate, one of her defenders quickly chimed in to remind us of the Lone Star State’s budget woes.
In his eagerness to repeat what appears to be the latest Democratic talking point — that Texas has budget problems too — he missed the second point I raised. While Texas does indeed have some budget problems, that state is booming economically while California busts. At present, as I reminded the politician’s defender, the Lone Star State has an employment rate one point lower than the national average while the (once-)Golden State has a rate three points higher.
As Mark Hemingway informs us:
In 2008, 70 percent of all the jobs in the country were created in Texas. In 2009, all of America’s top five job-creating cities were in Texas.
More recently, “Texas created 129,000 new jobs in the last year — over one-half of all the new jobs in the U.S. In contrast, California lost 112,000 jobs during the same period,” according to “Texas vs. California: Economic growth prospects for the 21st Century,” a new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation released in October.
Texas is home to 64 Fortune 500 companies — more than any other state in the union. (California has 51 and New York has 56.) For five years in a row, Texas has topped Chief Executive magazine’s poll of the best state to do business.
But, this latest talking point of Lone Star State’s critics addresses just one issue. This focus also helps show just how California politicians (and their defenders) are missing the second of the state’s big problems, the business climate. It’s as if they see the state’s fiscal mess as the only big problem California politicians face.And Governor Brown, to be sure, has done a decent job of trying to trim the state’s budget. He would do a better job if he could emulate his Badger State counterpart in standing up to the public employee unions.
That said, while other states have budget problems, including Texas, California has both a budget and a business problem. Unless legislators in Sacramento overturn anti-business policies (including the state’s draconian cap and trade law), it will continue to see business move elsewhere and jobs disappear. Instead of berating Texas, California Democrats would be wise to learn from the Lone Star State. Not to mention Wisconsin.
NB: Tweaked the post to improve the flow and clarify a point.