March 4, 2010


The Tea Party folks really lathered up last spring when Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry threatened secession. The clamor on the right has been deafening since. Just yesterday a commenter on one of the right wing blogs stated that he was just waiting for Texas to secede so he could move here to get away from “creeping socialism,” and “high taxes.”

Sorry folks, but you’re nothing less than delusional. While the rest of the country would actually benefit from such an improbable action, Texas and Texans would suffer.

Rick Perry brags that Texas is the best state to move to because it is the best state for business. His recent mud-slinging advertisements attacking his Republican primary challenger, Texas senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, make the claim that Texas has the best housing market and the lowest jobless rates in the country.

That makes the state sound like a pretty good place to live, but are things really so bountiful in Texas that secession would create an island of prosperity, with low taxes and high living standards for all? On the surface, when viewed from afar, Texas looks like a good deal for secessionists. Once no longer obligated to the Union for all that income tax, and no longer encumbered by all those federal mandates, Texas would be a real haven for all the small government, low tax folks.

Let look at a few facts

In overall tax burden, Texas does fare pretty well. All taxes combined and averaged across the 50 states, Texas comes out in 7th place as one of the lowest taxed states. Wyoming is number one, with California, New York and New Jersey weighing heavily on the other end of the scale. Texas has no personal income tax, and corporate/business taxes are in the low range in 6th place, but sales and personal property taxes are much higher, ranking 30th and 29th respectively. This means businesses and the wealthy pay low taxes, but Average Joe doesn’t make out so well.

At 23rd out of 50, Texas is about in the middle when it comes to in-state college tuition rates. When comparing the average cost of attending a state university, once all the ancillary fees are added, Texas doesn’t stack up so well. Combined costs make attending a Texas college more expensive than most other states. Students alleviate much of that additional fee burden, as well as tuition and housing costs, with one of the several grant-funded federal aid programs. Oh, wait a minute. It Texas were to secede those federal grants would no longer be available, would they?

Texas currently receives $1,417 in federal monies per K-12 public school student, which of course we would lose after secession. Our public school teacher salaries rank kind of low, at 34th in the nation. Several education jobs in the state exist only because they are 100% funded by federal grants. Texas has one of the highest dropout rates, and education rankings are near the bottom, where Texas has held 48th place overall for the past several years.

Texas health insurance rates are among the highest in the nation, and the effects are easy to measure. According to 2006-07 census data, at 24.8 percent, Texas leads the nation with the highest per capita uninsured rate. That rate is up from the 23.0 percent rate from the 2004-05 census, and as insurance rates go up, so will the ranks of the uninsured. Only California has more uninsured children; in number only – not percentage. Texas has a high and growing senior population too, increasing at a rate second only to Florida. Upon secession, all of these folks would lose Medicare and federal Medicaid funding, further adding to the ranks of the uninsured.

Texas roads are in pretty good condition; at least when compared to most other states, but the State road maintenance fund is currently estimated to be some $2 billion underfunded. The Legislature approved $3.5 billion in new construction and $2.3 billion in maintenance in the 2008-09 budget. $3.9 billion of that was to come from State funding, with the remainder paid for by $3.3 billion in federal reimbursements. Unfortunately, State revenues haven’t matched expectations, causing TxDOT to cancel or delay new construction and cut back on repairs. Federal stimulus funds are now being used to resurrect some of those projects.

So one must ask if Texas is really that secessionist wet dream Rick Perry tries to sell. If Texas is in such great shape as to be ready to secede, form the new Tea Party nation, and give up on the Federal perks, I’d like someone to explain how exactly it will all be paid for.

If the reason they want to come here is the low taxes, good living standards and better than average economy, please explain exactly where the money will come from to maintain even the paltry level of state services now provided … without increasing taxes.

I have no idea how we’ll do it as an independent nation when we cannot seem to do it now, even with the large amounts of federal funds flowing into the state. If Texas secedes, lots of things will change, and one thing is probably certain. Rick Perry will have to move out of his $10,000 a month rental mansion.



Bob S. said...

Great post, I wince and continue to wince when that type of talk comes up.

We are no where near the point where we need to talk.

We do need to talk about reforming the system but that has to be done within the system.