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The Texas Non-Miracle

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Three salient takeaways from Phillip Longman’s excellent piece explaining why Texas is not the model for economic development that Republicans would like to think it is:

  • Economic growth in Texas has been relatively rapid, but it has been driven almost entirely by 1)immigration (not migration from other states) and 2)the oil and gas boom.
  • Per capita income in Texas has been lagging well behind a variety of states with better and more humane governance, including Maryland, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts.
  • For the ordinary person, Texas is not a low-tax state.  To make up for the lack of income tax, Texas imposes high regressive sales and property taxes.  (The conflation of “income taxes” with “taxes” is truly one of the great accomplishments of dishonest conservative rhetoric, making it all the way to Harvard Yard.)

The bottom line:

No wonder then, that the flow of Americans moving to Texas is so modest. The state may offer low housing prices compared to California and an unemployment rate below the national average, but it also has low rates of economic mobility, minimal public services, and, unless you are rich, taxes that are as high or higher than most anywhere else in America. And worse, despite all the oil money sloshing around, Texas is no longer gaining on the richest states in its per capita income, but rather getting comparatively poorer and poorer.

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