Don’t believe everything you read – Texas bashing is fashionable among the politically correct

November 15, 2011

Don’t believe everything you read. Is Texas a wealthy state growing jobs and the economy or a poor state?

The Center for Public Policy Priorities has an opinion piece out this past weekend: Texas’ low-wage status is clearly not a good thing (available at the Austin American-Statesman:

Let’s get the facts straight. First, the state did not cut K-12 education funding as the CPPP article alleges. The state cut the rate of funding increases. Texas has funded public education at five times the rate of student population increases. We spend only 50 cents of each education dollar on instruction and ISD’s have one non-teacher for every teacher they employ. It’s about time we put some accountability in education spending and tighten ISD’s belts.

Regarding Texans’ relative wealth, we do have a low cost of living. Let’s face it, you can live better in Kerrville, TX, on $50,000 a year than you can in New York City.

CPPP paints a picture of poverty in Texas which the numbers don’t support. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

“About 550,000 Texans (9.5 percent of the hourly labor force) worked for wages at or below the federal minimum wage on $7.25 last year. That’s over a half million people making $15,000 more per year than those who are unemployed. Yes, it may be hard to support a family flipping burgers at McDonalds, but most minimum-wage earners (62.3 percent) are working part-time seasonal or supplemental jobs and a large portion of them (22.8 percent) are teenagers. Implying that there are 550,000 single parents with multiple children earning minimum wage in Texas is simply disingenuous. .. The poor and unemployed will always be drawn to cheaper locations with more opportunity. These factors make Texas especially attractive to such people, and are the explanation for the state’s larger-than-average poverty rate. Texas has relied on its economic opportunity and widespread wealth creation – as opposed to ineffectual handouts and quick fixes – to act as a safety net. And by the amount of indigent migrants that are attracted to Texas looking for a better life, the strategy seems to be working.”

The CPPP criticizes the legislature for cutting spending – something many Texans wanted to see happen – but if spending were not cut, taxes would be increased. And they cite taxes as falling disproportionately on the poor.

Let’s remember that CPPP wants to see Texas institute a state income tax. ( Most Texans don’t want a state income tax and studies show that states with an income tax.

We might note that: “On average, schools, health and safety, roads, etc. are no better in states with income taxes than those without income taxes. More importantly, the evidence is very strong that people are moving from high-tax states to lower-tax-rate states — the migration from California to Texas and from New York to Florida being prime examples. (Next year, the combined federal, state, and local income tax rate for a citizen of New York City will be well over 50 percent, as contrasted with approximately 38 percent for citizens of Texas and Florida.) … If the citizens of California and New York really thought they were getting their money’s worth for all of the extra state taxation, they would not be moving to low-tax states.”

Read more on Abolish State Income Taxes

The growth of Texas’ labor force and the state’s rapid job creation represent a prosperous economy, despite what the unemployment rate might say. (

A lot of critics have anticipated over 100,000 teacher layoffs in the wake of the budget cuts, but so far, those layoffs have failed to emerge. According to the Texas Education Agency, the state employs “more than 320,000 teachers.” But according to documents released by the TEA last week, the state continued to employ nearly 340,000 teachers as of September 1. The firing scare has yet to materialize, and likely never will. School districts have coped with less money by increasing classroom size by a student or two, implementing efficiencies and cutting unnecessary programs.

Next on the list of denunciations is Texas’ high poverty rate (which has been refuted numerous times), accompanied by vague references to an above-average high school dropout rate (the product of high mobility) and high rates of uninsured (a product of migration-enhanced unemployment).

Some have alleged that the “Texas miracle” has made the state one of the poorest in the nation – 47 out of 50 in median household wealth. But according to the US Census Bureau, the median Texas household pulled in $48,259 in 2009, the 26th-highest of all states. However, when compounded with an extremely low cost-of-living, Texas is one of the wealthiest states in the country.

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