The state of Georgia is in a good place. Yes we have tremendous challenges. Our billion dollar deficits, failed banks, double digit unemployment and rampant home foreclosures are huge problems but nearly every state in the nation is facing such difficulties.
The difference between most states and Georgia is that we are in a perfect position to capitalize on the economic challenges facing us. Georgia can choose to develop an economic climate that will not only survive a difficult environment but actually thrive in it.
Texas is already doing it. For more than a year now I have watched as the state of Texas has become a magnet for jobs and growth in the worst economy of my lifetime. In fact, as stated by Rich Lowry on National Review Online:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 214,000 net new jobs were created in the United States from August 2009 to August 2010. Texas created 119,000 jobs during the same period. If every state in the country had performed as well, we’d have created about 1.5 million jobs nationally during the past year, and maybe “stimulus” wouldn’t be such a dirty word.
What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t? At its simplest: Don’t overtax and -spend, keep regulations to a minimum, avoid letting unions and trial lawyers run riot, and display an enormous neon sign saying, “Open for Business.”
Of course since our state has the opportunity to make good choices we also face the chance of making a bad choice. Fortunately California provides a glimpse into the future of what Georgia would become if we choose our economic model poorly. To illustrate I suggest you read Mark Hemigway’s piece titled “Texas booms while California busts” in the Washington Examiner. The first installment of the five part series outlines the two contrasting business models:
Broadly speaking, the two states have many similarities. They have diverse economies, large urban areas, a border with Mexico and similar demographic make-up, with Hispanics a third of the population. Yet one state is failing and one state is succeeding.
California is facing budget shortfalls in excess of $20 billion each year for the next five years, and acquires $25 million in new debt each day. “We’ve been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I’m shocked,” then California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, D, told the Los Angeles Times.
By contrast, when Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, campaigned successfully for a third term this year, he ran ads touting the fact that his state has billions in surplus. In fact, Texas was one of only six states that did not run a budget deficit in 2009.
Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of Texas’ superiority is that Americans have been stating their preference for the Lone Star State with their feet.
Between 2000 and 2009, California had a domestic outflow of 1.5 million people, while Texas had 850,000 move in from other states. From 2008 to 2009, Texas’ population inflow was double that of any other state.
So how have two similar states ended up in such radically different situations? The answer is smaller government.
The economic climates of Texas and California could not be more different and the results could not be more evident. Texas is a model for success and California is a model for failure.
The people of Georgia hold our destiny in the palm of our hands. Let’s just hope that the state’s extension of the GA 400 toll and Transportation Tax Increase aren’t indicative of the path our government intends to follow.
You can read all of Mr. Hemingway’s article and follow the future installments here.