Texas’ economic position keeps getting better, if for no other reason than the antics of the other 49 states. Perhaps one of the best economic development tools Texas has right now is the phrase, “We’re not California.”

For years the grow-government crowd has prodded Texas lawmakers to follow California’s lead in expanding welfare, creating new government programs and imposing every tax known to man. Now the bills are coming due.

Texas has business-growth, a better-than-elsewhere employment climate, and a state government surplus.

California is hemorrhaging jobs, is imploding by every known economic measure, and cannot even pay its bills.

When confronted with criticism that Texas isn’t doing such-and-such, legislators here can rightly say, “Well, California was doing that, and look where that thinking got them. Who wants to be there now?”

Sure, San Diego has some nice beaches, and the wine country is beautiful. But if you are unemployed, no hopes of finding a job and your kids’ teachers are being paid in IOUs, all that beauty won’t put food on the table. A paying job in Nacogdoches beats being jobless in Napa, hands down.

Now, it might have something to do with being west of the Rocky Mountains. Arizona’s Republican-ish governor, Jan Brewer, just forced a special legislative session on the budget… By vetoing large portions of it. She also has thrown a temper-tantrum because the GOP-controlled legislature refused to do a tax hike.

Arizona lawmakers wanted to confront their budget crises with reduced general revenue spending. She just wanted more money.

Oddly, Gov. Brewer was born in Hollywood, California.

So maybe it is proximity to California liberals that causes such problems.

Texas has fortunately adopted a different mindset.

That’s not to say our politicians haven’t made some glowing mistakes, in terms of the tax policies pursued (the business tax) or haven’t fixed (weaning us from property taxes). They’ve missed some opportunities (like keeping welfare programs under tighter control) and failed to reign in bureaucracies as tightly as they could (with spending limits).

But there has clearly for the last decade been a very purposeful trend — followed in fits and starts — in crafting an economically viable environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive.

For any political sins one might want to ascribe to Gov. Rick Perry, he has been an integral part of positioning the Lone star State in a fiscally responsible manner. From the bully pulpit of the governorship, he has stood constitently for spending limits, government transparency and tax relief.

Of course, he hasn’t been alone in driving good public policy.

It took a cadre of conservative leaders, ranging from former Speaker Tom Craddick to rank-and-file lawmakers like State Reps. Linda Harper-Brown and Ken Paxton, to senators like Jane Nelson and our Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Texas’ relatively strong economy didn’t happen by accident, but it can be lost to neglect. In this election cycle, we need to strengthen the hold of right-thinking lawmakers on the policy reins in the legislature.

We need even more folks willing to think outside the government-spending box, implementing policies that free the creativity of the marketplace.

For our long-term prosperity, Texans need to have even more economic flexibility, not high-tax shackles.

And it won’t hurt if California, Arizona and others keep applying the principles of Obamanomics in their states.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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