Throughout 2009 and '10 there were a series of magazine pieces wondering how it was that Texas "powered through the global fiscal crisis" (per Fortune) and experienced "something like an economic boom" (according to The Atlantic) while California suffered. But then, of course, we discovered that the state's facing a $27-billion budget shortfall, which could crush public education; the Dallas Independent School Board, matter of fact, will begin its public discussions about the impact of a looming $260-million gutting this Thursday.
On the front page of this morning's Los Angeles Times is a piece that attempts to dismantle Governor Rick Perry's long-standing claims that all's well in the Lone Star State. An excerpt:
The Texas budget crisis is prompting some experts to reconsider what had been dubbed the Texas Miracle. The state has much lower unemployment than California, but economists note that many of the jobs are low-paying. One out of three wage earners in Texas earns too little to keep a family of four above the federal poverty level, according to a 2009 study by the Corp. for Enterprise Development, a Washington-based nonprofit. That is double the percentage of similarly low-wage Californians.Perry couldn't be reached for comment for this article. He was in California at the time.
Such figures call into question whether Texas' economy has really transitioned into a new 21st century model, or whether it has been buoyed by high oil prices and lots of loosely zoned land where construction of cheap houses endured through the recession.
"You have to separate out what your public policies have done for you and what God has done for you," said Scott McCown, executive director of the left-leaning Center for Public Policies and Priorities in Austin. "People shouldn't be fooled by what is going on here."