Jobs are the lifeblood of any economy, and jobs data is consistently showing that Texas is healthy. The formula, however, is no secret.

In his inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan spoke of a city upon a hill. While not the first to use the imagery, Reagan invoked the idea throughout his presidency, including in his farewell address.

Clearly one of his favorite historical references, Reagan attributed the concept to a New World settler named John Winthrop, who sailed from the Old World to Massachusetts on the tiny ship, the Arabella. Winthrop reportedly told other settlers gathered on the deck:

“We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and byword through the world.”

Reagan believed that in 1980, America was as committed as ever to preserving the city upon a hill.

The great American experiment is one in which our constitutional republic affords us the liberty to employ new, creative policy ideas in little laboratories called states. Those that work can be replicated and improved, while those that fail can be contained and hopefully relegated to the dustbin of history.

The Texas model has, so far, arguably been the most complete and true vision of limited government in the tradition of Reagan and the founders. Low taxation, sensible regulation, and conservative budgeting have thrust the Lone Star State to the forefront of economic growth and prosperity.

Economic indicators have shown Texas to be something of a modern miracle. After the Great Recession and collapsing oil prices, critics thought Texas would languish perpetually in economic doldrums. What they didn’t (or refused) to see was that Texas was well on its way to diversifying its economy and laying the groundwork for economic success, thanks to conservative leadership rather than divine intervention.

Fast forward to today, when a newly released jobs report shows Texas created 27,200 net non-farm jobs in June, for a total of 359,500 for the year—an overall figure that is 90,000 more than second-ranked California. On top of that, Texas has seen 24 consecutive months of employment growth and over 48 straight months of unemployment below five percent.

To put the state’s job growth into perspective, since 2007 the state of Texas has created 24 percent of the country’s new jobs, with only nine percent of the nation’s population. That’s nearly one out of every four new jobs.

The positive news continues, as the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that Texas’ rapid economic expansion hit 2.9 percent in real gross domestic product, again among the fastest in the country. For comparison, the California and New York economies grew by 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Dr. Vance Ginn, senior economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, frequently refers to the state as “the engine of job creation.” In a statement, Ginn pointed to the Texas model and federal tax cuts, saying, “Given the benefits of Texas’ model of limited government and recent Trump tax cuts, the Texas economy continues to expand at a robust pace. By holding spending in check and providing tax relief so it stays in the pockets of Texans, Texas will continue to be the place for abundant prosperity.”

The booming Texas economy has even outranked Canada and Russia as the 10th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP.

Of course, none of this is to say that Texas doesn’t have its challenges. Despite billions of unexpected tax revenue this year, state lawmakers in the next legislative session will be forced to decide between pressing supplemental expenses like Medicaid, pensions, and Hurricane Harvey recovery, as well as possibly buying down property taxes with the surplus.

Texas property taxes are the sixth highest in the nation and roundly considered a top issue for voters, with many residents taxed out of their homes and many businesses forced to shut down due to skyrocketing appraisals and obstinate local officials who refuse to lower tax rates in response.

Additionally, progressives in Texas have been clamoring to implement far-left policies. From raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid, to bringing about a dreaded state income tax and raiding the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, there exist no shortage of big government ideas that would turn the Texas model on its head and divert her from her path to sustained greatness.

While solidly red, Texas and her conservative base cannot afford to rest on their laurels, now or ever. “A republic, if you can keep it,” and “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance” are not simply empty slogans. Many real and present forces are less concerned with preserving any shining cities on hills and more interested in broad application of failed ideologies.

During the height of the Cold War, President Reagan spoke on the campaign trail about meeting the challenges of the communist Soviet Union. In such dangerous times, teetering on the brink of nuclear war and addressing a gathering of voters, he said, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope for man on Earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

The “last best hope” was a reference to freedom and the American tradition. Were it a mythical place, it’s capitol would no doubt be Texas.

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … And how stands the city on this winter night? After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.” – President Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address, 1989

Salvador Ayala

Sal is the Budget & Policy Analyst for Empower Texans. He has been a committed proponent of American founding principles since 2007, shortly after receiving his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Before joining Empower Texans, he served as legislative director for Rep. Matt Rinaldi in the Texas house and was a delegate to the 2012 RNC. In his leisure, Sal enjoys live music, digital photography, guitar, bicycling, trivia, and documentary films.


5/24/24 More Trouble at the Border

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