Texas vs. California: No contest
One is a big government state, the other a small government state. One has lost population, one has gained. One has low taxes, the other high.
Is it any wonder that California is near default while Texas thrives?
Texas is a different story. Texas has low taxes -- and no state income taxes -- and a much smaller government. Its legislature meets for only 90 days every two years, compared with California's year-round legislature. Its fiscal condition is sound. Public employee unions are weak or nonexistent.
But Texas seems to be delivering superior services. Its teachers are paid less than California's. But its test scores -- and with a demographically similar school population -- are higher. California's once fabled freeways are crumbling and crowded. Texas has built gleaming new highways in metro Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.
In the meantime, Texas' economy has been booming. Unemployment rates have been below the national average for more than a decade, as companies small and large generate new jobs.
And Americans have been voting for Texas with their feet. From 2000 to 2009, some 848,000 people moved from other parts of the United States to Texas, about the same number as moved in from abroad. That inflow has continued in 2008-09, in which 143,000 Americans moved into Texas, more than double the number in any other state, at the same time as 98,000 were moving out of California. Texas is on the way to gain four additional House seats and electoral votes in the 2010 reapportionment.
People vote with their feet. If citizens wanted big government to run their lives, they would be flocking to California, New York, Illinois and other states where huge government bureaucracies manned by public employee unions dominate individual's lives.
But the California miracle that was so much a part of the post-World War II economic boom appears finally to be over - or at least derailed by runaway nanny state initiatives. From here on out, it will be the "Texas Model" to which states will aspire.