Dear Fellow Texan –
I was first elected to public office, as a state representative, over 20 years ago, in 1992. Since then I have served almost 16 years in statewide positions and now as the CFO of the state, I am amazed at the extraordinary transformation that has taken place.
Through two recessions, the most recent being acute, and various ups and downs in the global and national economy, Texas has emerged as the nation’s economic powerhouse. Certainly oil and gas revenues have been welcome, but the real story behind this surge is more complex.
Policies matter. So does atmosphere – by that, I mean the economic and regulatory atmosphere. Freedom to invest is a major draw for capital, because capital will and does flee a hostile environment. Over these 20 years and more I believe that conservative economic policies have created circumstances where individuals, small businesses, families, and large employers can all thrive. And the fact is, they do.
Why? Tort reform was started in a big way in 1996 and has continued apace. It gave certainty to businesses about what the obligations were. Tax policies have been clearly understood and the lack of a state income tax has been repeatedly touted as a reason to move to Texas. The state’s very size is another boon – you can spread out, find space for your home or your business – and it is affordable.
Except for the sheer size of the state, none of this was accidental. Texas conservative lawmakers and policy drivers recognized the relationship between risk and reward, and that preserving a robust welcome mat produced great results. Look around you. People are moving here, voting with their feet and their tires. Young people are staying here, opting for jobs and more jobs, and housing they can afford.
And education at the post secondary level is affordable whether it is a large selection of community colleges, four year colleges, or technical institutes. This means a well trained work force can be had.
We are going to talk in more detail about this and more in the coming weeks, but as a fourth generation Texan I am glad that the Texas of the past has been transformed into the Texas of the future. Stay tuned.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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