Texas Governor Rick Perry is the news media’s Flavor of the Month. He’s getting rave reviews, much of it focused on the miracle economy he has reportedly engineered. When you Google “Rick Perry unemployment rate” this morning, you will be treated to several thousand articles gushing that Texas’s unemployment rate is a point lower than the national unemployment rate.
So, Rick Perry is all in. As the great Texas anthropologist Jerry Jeff Walker observed, “when a Texan fancies, he’ll take his chances, chances will be taken.”
Perry’s rave reviews have to rankle Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Because when you look at economic and quality of life numbers through Minnesota goggles, Texas doesn’t look so miraculous.
• MN unemployement rate is 6.7%. TX is 8.2%. US is 9.1%.
• MN median household income is $54,403. TX is $53,009. (adjusted for cost-of-living)
• MN heath insurance rate is 91%. TX is 76%. US is 85%.
• MN infant mortality rate is 4.8%. TX is 6.5%. US is 6.9%
• MN high school graduation rate is 85.4%. TX is 65.3%. US is 70.1%
So, remind me again, why do we want Minnesota and the whole nation to become like Rick Perry’s Texas?
Yes, taxes in Texas are lower than in Minnesota, and just about every other place on the planet. If your life’s ambition is to pay as little taxes as possible, Mr. Perry might well be the low bidder. But I lived in Texas as a poor student – hook ‘em Horns — and I can tell you that you get what you pay for. If your life’s ambition is for your family to have a decent income, good health care, and healthy, smart kids, Perry may not be your guy. The numbers tell the story.
Of course, Tim Pawlenty is no miracle worker either. Under Pawlenty, Minnesota took a dramatic step backwards. Thanks to Pawlenty’s cuts in state health coverage programs, uninsurance rates went from 6.6% to 9.1, a 29% freefall. Real median income has declined by 9%, which is twice as fast as the nation as a whole. Minnesota fell from 8th in the nation in per capita income to 14th. And despite throwing $150 million in handouts to business owners through his aborably named JOBZ program, job growth under Pawlenty was 0.5%, lowest of any of the former Governor’s seeking the presidency.
But give Governor Pawlenty his due. It’s not like he drove us below Rick Perry’s Texas.