Rick Scott and other conservatives need to stop using Texas as an example of a state budgeting wisely


Some economic writers have called Texas the U.S.'s Ireland.  Remember when John McCain used to boast about how well that small nation was doing back during the 2008 campaign?  Ireland was hailed by conservatives for its pro-business, anti-tax, low spending strategy, and was seen as a model for economic growth, the way forward for all of Europe.


Then the bottom fell out last year, and Ireland ended up taking a $113 billion bailout from the European Union.


Of course, the states don't get bailouts — they've got to balance their budgets, and as stated above, don't bet on Rick Perry raising taxes to square the circle.


But even though Rick Scott seems intent on doing what he wants, regardless of evidence to the contrary that it might not be be the best thing (see Meg Laughlin's devastating story in the Times on the lack of a a drug monitoring program here in Florida), Floridians have to keep hope alive that empirical evidence will see him get off his ideological positions.


And that includes invoking Texas as the economic model for Florida, when that state will have to contend with far greater budget cutting than Florida will — though many of the painful cuts will come here not just to balance the budget, but to "drain the swamp" that is government spending.


At the State Fair Governor's Luncheon in Tampa on Monday, Governor Rick Scott repeated his mantra that Texas, under Governor Rick Perry, has been the best state in the nation at economic development.

"Texas has done a better job of building jobs than any place in the country by a long shot," he said

Scott is correct that Texas has seen more job growth and less unemployment than most states in the country in these recessionary years, but the bill is coming due to the Lone Star state soon: According to the Texas comptroller, Texas is expected to have a $27 billion deficit over the 2012-2013 period.

The New York Times' Paul Krugman wrote this in early January:

What about the budget? The truth is that the Texas state government has relied for years on smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of sound finances in the face of a serious “structural” budget deficit — that is, a deficit that persists even when the economy is doing well. When the recession struck, hitting revenue in Texas just as it did everywhere else, that illusion was bound to collapse.

The only thing that let Gov. Rick Perry get away, temporarily, with claims of a surplus was the fact that Texas enacts budgets only once every two years, and the last budget was put in place before the depth of the economic downturn was clear. Now the next budget must be passed — and Texas may have a $25 billion hole to fill. Now what?

Given the complete dominance of conservative ideology in Texas politics, tax increases are out of the question. So it has to be spending cuts.

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