Friday, February 11, 2011

Texas v. California
As a Californian, I found this opinion piece by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times interesting.  Texas has similar debt problems to those in California.  Here are a few quotes, but the entire article is worth reading:

The budget crises afflicting states coast to coast arise from a combination of the nationwide recession and obsolete or wrongheaded state taxing schemes. The National Council of State Legislatures says that at least 15 states face large deficits this year and 35 in fiscal 2012. 

As things stand now, the council's figures place California's projected 2012 deficit at $19.2 billion, or 18.7% of its general fund, and the Texas deficit at $7.4 billion, or 17% of its budget. States with broad-based tax policies that balance property, income and sales taxes are best equipped to ride out economic cycles, because those levies don't all move in lockstep with the economy. Neither California, with its over-reliance on income and sales taxes, nor Texas, which has no income tax, qualifies.
Here is another quote from the article:

The supposed superiority of Texas over California in fiscal policy long has been a conservative article of faith. In 2009 the libertarian American Legislative Exchange Council published a report co-authored by the conservative economist Arthur Laffer underscoring the contrast. The report posited that "Texas' superior policies over the past several years are making the Lone Star State more resilient to the current economic downturn."

But Texas was hardly immune to the recession. From 2006 through 2010, the unemployment rate in Texas soared from 4.4% to 8.3%. Yes, that's a better showing than California, which went from 4.9% to 12.5%, but the difference may reflect the huge effect on California's economy of the popping of the housing bubble, which jumped our unemployment rate to a new magnitude and is likely to keep it there for a while.
And finally this:
Curiously, Texas' reputation as a low-tax, business-friendly state survives although its state and local business levies exceed California's as a percentage of each state's business activity (4.9% versus 4.7% in 2009, according to a report by the accounting firm Ernst & Young). What's different is that Texas business taxation relies more on property, sales and excise taxes and government fees than California, which relies on taxing corporate income.
I got a kick out of talk of Texas secession.   With this kind of deficit and such limited government, good luck with forming a new country.

No comments: