Mexia News Editorial
Texas Lemonade has bitter aftertaste
As the U.S. economy went into a tailspin six years ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry set up the country's largest lemonade stand, offering cheap relief to all those suffering around the country.
In some ways it was a genius plan. Nearly non-existent taxes, little if any regulation, and in most cases, future tax incentives brought businesses and worker flocking to Texas as most of the country floundered. Everyone wants free lemonade, right?
While in the short term it tastes great and quenches our thirst for growth, it promises to have a very bitter aftertaste and it is beginning to sour already. Good lemonade, mixed and made right has a bitter sweetness to it and it refreshes. Bad lemonade just leaves that sour bite.
You get what you pay for, and our cheap lemonade is beginning to be a problem. Texas has added 1.3 million people from 2010-2013. Texas spends less than all but three states nationally per resident.
Perry can brag all he wants about his business-friendly approach, but someone has to see the coming reckoning over the lack of spending. These new businesses and residents are going to expect good roads, plenty of affordable water and a quality education for workers and children. The state can't provide even minimal quality infrastructure and education on a shoestring. If we are in a position to pay for any of those now, how is that going to change?
Not only is this no-spend approach a disaster in the making, which leaders years from now will be saddled with correcting, it is a ruse in many ways.
Since 2007, municipal governments in Texas have issued more than $50 billion in new debt to keep up with basic infrastructure needs because the state has shifted that burden to the local level. That total means state and local spending combined has more than doubled since 2003.
We have built new toll roads – technically not a tax, but still money out of Texans' pockets – but we continue to have no long term answer to growing traffic problems.
The city of San Antonio has raised water rates 20 percent in the last two years and we all expect our own rates to increase in Mexia as well. Why? Because someone has to foot the bill.
There is no free ride and there is no growth and prosperity without some corresponding investment. The sooner the state of Texas comes to terms with this bitter truth, the sooner we can come up with a plan to pay for all this growth and prevent a fall as dramatic as our rise. You get what you pay for, so guess what Texans will get if we pay practically nothing?