Posts Tagged ‘Chuck DeVore’

Texas vs. California Update for April 20, 2017

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

This didn’t get done while I was doing my taxes, but here, at last, is another giant Texas vs. California update:

  • Appeals court finds San Diego’s pension reform legal. “California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.” San Diego transitioned to a 401K style program. Naturally public employee unions screamed bloody murder and sought to have the reforms overturned. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Unions attempts to role back San Diego’s pension reforms amounted to an attempt to retroactively apply collective bargaining to older laws.
  • More: It’s “shocking the agency’s officials would have even argued that a union’s right to negotiate pay and benefits trumps the public’s right to hold an election.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California exports its working poor to Texas.

    Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

    About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

    Snip.

    The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

  • Hat tip for the above is this Zero Hedge piece, which notes “By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as more and more residents leave, the burden to fund the state’s welfare exuberance will fall more and more on the wealthier (that actually pay taxes). Rather than secession, perhaps it’s time for the wealthy to join ‘the poor’ exodus and beat the crowd out of California…”
  • A look at a California tent city of 1,000 people.
  • Kevin Williamson on why Houston’s diversity is different than the liberal ideal of same:

    Living in a place where it is less of a struggle to pay the rent or make the mortgage payment does indeed chill most everybody out a little bit. But it is not at all obvious that what Houston — or Texas at large — enjoys is in fact a culture that is generally welcoming to immigrants in a way that is different from Scottsdale or Trenton or Missoula. What Texas does have is something close to the opposite of that: a large and very well-integrated Mexican-American community. Anglos in Texas aren’t welcoming to Latinos because we are in some way uniquely open to the unfamiliar, but because they are not unfamiliar.

    This matters in ways that are not obvious if you didn’t grow up with it. My native West Texas, along with the whole of the border and much of the rest of the state, has a longstanding, stable Anglo–Latin hybrid culture. Houston does, too, but Houston, being a very large city, is a little more complicated; I had lunch yesterday with a conservative leader who chatted amiably with the staff in Spanish at . . . an Indian restaurant.

    That robust hybrid culture ensures that the people Anglos hear speaking Spanish are not always poor, not mowing the lawn or cleaning a hotel room, that they are not usually immigrants, not people who cannot speak or read English — not alien. They are neighbors who, if you are lucky, make Christmas tamales. And they might be your employer or your employee, the guy who sells you a car or approves your car loan, a pastor at your church, a professor, a member of your Ultimate Frisbee team . . . or an illegal immigrant, or a criminal, or someone who is in some way unassimilated, alien, or threatening. When one out of three people in your county is “Hispanic” — a word that in Texas overwhelmingly means “Mexican-American” — then you tend to know Hispanic people of all descriptions: the good, the bad, and the ordinary.

    That is not the case in, say, Arlington, Va., which does not have a large and well-assimilated Mexican-American population but does have a large and poorly assimilated population of Spanish-speaking immigrants. The two things are not the same — more like opposites. Add to that the fact, sometimes lost on Anglos, that there is no such thing as a “Hispanic” culture or population, that people with roots in Mexico do not think of themselves as being part of a single cultural group that includes people from Central America and South America. A while back, I heard an older fellow of Mexican background complaining about the Guatemalans moving into his area — and he was an illegal immigrant. That’s a funny reality: In Texas, even some of the illegals don’t think that we can let just anybody cross the border. But ethnic politics is a strange business: In West Texas, young whites without much money (college students and the like) who would never for a moment seriously consider moving into a low-income black neighborhood will not give a second thought to moving into a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

    All of which is not to say that Texas does not have a fair number of poorly assimilated Spanish-speaking immigrants: It surely does, especially in the big cities. (People forget how urban Texas is: Six of the 20 largest U.S. cities are in Texas.) But it is easier to accommodate — and, one hopes, to assimilate — those newcomers when you have a culture of mutual familiarity and trust, which is based not on newcomers but on oldcomers. Texas’s ancient Mexican-American community — whose members famously boast, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” — is a kind of buffer that makes absorbing newcomers less stressful.

  • Leaving coastal California is a ‘no-brainer‘ for some as housing costs rise.”

    Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.

    They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.

    So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.

  • “California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities.” Versus zero for Texas. So they have the nation’s most stringent pollution laws…and the nation’s worst air pollution. (Golf clap) (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore’s Twitter feed.)
  • 16 Reasons Not To Live In California. Samples (snippage implied):

    #2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row…
    #3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation. For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.
    #4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.
    #5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse. According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.

  • CalSTRS’ funded status falls to 64% as deficit grows $21 billion following rate reduction.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas is on its way to passing a conservative budget.
  • A Democrat-sponsored bill in the California legislature guarantees free healthcare for all, without specifying a way to pay for it. Maybe they’ll institute a unicorn tax… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection spells out exactly what Californians would actually get under the plan:
    • With no choice, there is no competition, unless you are wealthy enough to leave the state for medical care. However, this is a golden opportunity for medical tourism companies!

    • There will be a limited supply of doctors, as those who don’t want to go through the bureaucratic hoops for procedures and payment will also leave the state.
    • Clinicians will be forced to make their treatment decisions based on the state-run rules: Why choose surgery when a pill will do?
    • Shockingly, some funds need to be directed to other budget items instead of perks for illegal aliens (refer to Oroville Dam for a handy reference).
    • Medicare, the system that is the foundation for this proposal, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse (e.g., 3 Floridians bilked the system for $1 billion).
    • Co-pays and deductibles will be transformed into monies paid for non-state government healthcare services (like the Canadians who cross into the United States to obtain MRI’s and other innovative treatments).
    • Public oversight will translate into political wheeling-and-dealing strictly for the benefit of those plugged into the rigged system. An indication that Sacramento may be headed for such a system, I offer this piece published in The Sacramento Bee for consideration: Why California must accept more corruption.
    • The cost of drugs has soared, despite Obamacare. As an example, I had a skin medication that would cost me $150 for an annual supply. The same medication now costs nearly $1000 a year, and I no longer use it.
  • In order to further bestow members of the ruling Democratic coalition with rights and privileges mere citizens don’t enjoy, California’s Senate Bill 807 proposes making teachers exempt from state income tax. Some pigs are evidently way, way more equal than others…
  • Teacher’s unions have helped create California’s teacher shortage. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California hikes its gas taxes yet again, making them the highest in the nation.
  • Pension liabilities are pinching in Gilroy, California: “Gilroy’s three biggest public employers have amassed more than $183 million in unpaid pension liabilities. That’s likely more than ever, and a figure that, absent major reform, will grow and siphon budget funds from essential public services, say officials and pension experts. In Gilroy, 23 city pensions exceed $100,000 and more than 60 exceed $70,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Court to determine whether California’s public employee union members can simply continue to buy years of service rather than actually working them.
  • Silicon Valley slows down. “Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August.”
  • What the lords of Silicon Valley actually think: “Inequality is a feature, not a bug.”
  • Hold on to your seats for this one: California’s government actually did something right, legalizing the selling of home-made food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Hotel construction continues apace in the United States, and dozens of new properties are expected to open this year in two major corporate and tourist destinations, New York and Los Angeles. But the three other cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to the industry research company STR, are all in Texas — Dallas, Houston and Austin.” Notice the implied condescension in the NYT piece: New York and LA are real places, whereas Dallas, Houston and Austin are “other cities.”

    More:

    The number of new hotels in Texas is notable. In 2017, Marriott plans to open eight hotels in Austin, seven in Houston and 23 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the company. Ninety-two other Marriott hotels are in the planning stages for the three metro areas. Hilton says it is planning for 75 new hotels there. InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 100 hotel projects in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metro areas, including the Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and Staybridge Suites brands.

    Austin is home to the state capital; the University of Texas at Austin, a campus with 50,000 students; and a long list of technology companies. Its growing recreation and dining scene is attracting more leisure travelers, filling guest rooms on weekends and making the city “more of a seven-day-a-week hotel market,” according to Tim Powell, the managing director for development for Hilton’s southwest region.

  • A bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of California plays Santa Claus with a bank’s money.
  • Just what illegal aliens cost California.
  • “L.A. To Worsen Housing Shortage With New Rent Controls.”
  • “California Dems Promise Taxpayer Dollars to Defend Illegal Immigrants.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Calpers Is Sick of Paying Too Much for Private Equity…Pension fund’s private-equity returns were 12.3% over 20 years, but they would have been 19.3% without fees and costs.” (WSJ hoops apply.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Texas top state for number of new, expanded corporate facilities for fifth consecutive year.”
  • It’s not just Oroville Dam that needs maintenance: a section of Highway 50 collapsed in February. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency.”
  • “A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam.” Namely for noting that Hayden supported “a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.” Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) came to America as a Vietnamese refugee, and Democrats were incensed she was allowed to speak truth to power when it came to hagiography for one of their own. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform.'”
  • Selling carbon indulgences just isn’t what it used to be under Trump:

    February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state.

    Results for last week’s auction were posted Wednesday morning, revealing that just 16.5 percent of the 74.8 million metric tons of emission allowances were sold at the floor price of $13.57 per ton.

    The state auctions emission allowances to polluters and speculators as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are supposed to be spent on public programs to slow climate change.

    February’s auction is being closely watched by market analysts because the last three quarterly auctions in 2016 posted sub-par results.

    Almost all of February’s proceeds went either to California’s utilities, who sell allowances they receive free from the Air Resources Board, or the Canadian province of Quebec, which offers emission allowances through California. Both are first in line when auction proceeds are apportioned.

    The ARB was offering 43.7 million tons of state-owned emission allowances, but sold just 602,340 tons of advance 2020 allowances, which means the state will see only $8.2 million, rather than the nearly $600 million it could have received from a sellout.

    (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore on Twitter.)

  • California’s high speed train-to-nowhere is still doomed.
  • “Six former LA safety officers collected pension payouts of over $1,000,000 apiece last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Oakland Fire Chief Announces Retirement Days After Pension Vested, Warehouse Fire Probe Continues.”
  • San Rafael has the the highest pension costs in California by percentage of their total budget (18%). “Money that goes to one thing can’t go to another thing, so if you’re spending almost $1 out of $5 on pension payments, that is a lot less money available for tangible public services such as filling potholes, keeping the library open and making sure there is sufficient police protection.”
  • Remember Anthony Silva, mayor of formerly bankrupt Stockton? He’s been arrested again, this time for embezzling “at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years.” That would be the same Anthony Silva who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose own guns were stolen and used in crimes, and who was also arrested for “for playing strip poker with minor and giving them alcohol while at a youth camp.” Given such august leadership, I can’t imagine how Stockton went bankrupt… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • New survey of the Permian Basin in Texas shows that there’s another 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil than previously thought.
  • More on the fracking boom:

  • Minimum wage hike watch: Wendy’s to try out more than 1000 self-serve kiosks.
  • San Francisco’s wage hike is already closing restaurants. Especially those that serve affordable food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • California’s “hide actor’s age” law struck down.
  • “Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty on obstruction of justice and other charges.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I would like to celebrate Austin Austin having the shortest commute time in this study of major cities except, since I now experience that commute time every weekday, I can tell you that 16 minute estimate is utter crap. Maybe Austin is the best if the commute time for other cities is similarly underestimated. By contrast, the Austin rental rate of $476 a week seems slightly high, while the London rate of $489 a week seems way too low…
  • Kubota Tractor Corp. finished its’ U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Grapevine, Texas. (Previously.)
  • “West Plano’s $3 billion Legacy West development has landed another big name business. Boeing will locate the headquarters for its newly formed global services division in the 250-acre mixed-use project at the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121.”
  • Los Angeles-based fashion company Nasty Gal declares bankruptcy. Also, nice proofreading on this subhead, LA Times: “Why couldn’t they the company hold on to shoppers?” Note: That’s still up for a story published February 24th…
  • Los Angeles clothing brand BCBG Max Azria Group, owner of Hervé Leger, also filed for bankruptcy.
  • The City of St. Louis sues the NFL, and all 32 NFL teams, over the Rams relocation to Los Angeles.
  • “L.A. County Sheriff’s Department switches from silver to gold belt buckles at a cost of $300,000.” That’s some might fine resource allocation there, Lou… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for October 19, 2016

    Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update! Included here are several links from City Journal’s special “Texas Rising” issue.

  • Texas cities continue to kick ass economically:

    Texas’s spectacular growth is largely a story of its cities—especially of Austin, Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. These Big Four metropolitan areas, arranged in a layout known as the “Texas Triangle,” contain two-thirds of the state’s population and an even higher share of its jobs. Nationally, the four metros, which combined make up less than 6 percent of the American population, posted job growth equivalent to 30 percent of the United States’ total since the financial crash in 2007. Within Texas, they’ve accounted for almost 80 percent of the state’s population growth since 2000 and over 75 percent of its job growth. Meantime, a third of Texas counties, mostly rural, have actually been losing population.

    Texas is sometimes described as the new California, an apt parallel in terms of the states’ respective urban geographies. Neither state is dominated by a single large city; each has four urban areas of more than 1 million people, with two of these among the largest regions in the United States. In both states, these major regions are demographically and economically distinct.

    But unlike California, whose cities have refocused on elite priorities at the expense of middle-class occupations, Texas offers a complete spectrum of economic activities in its metros. Another key difference is that Texas cities have mostly embraced pro-development policies that have kept them affordable by allowing housing supply to expand with population, while California’s housing prices blasted into the stratosphere due to severe development restrictions. Texas cities also benefit from favorable state policies, such as the absence of a state income tax and a reasonable regulatory and litigation environment. These factors make Texas cities today what California’s used to be: places to go in search of the American dream.

  • More on how Texas cities are growing:

    Though some east/west coastal cities—notably, San Francisco—have enjoyed vigorous growth of late, none has been nearly as proficient in creating jobs in the new millennium as Texas’s four leading metros. Overall, Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston have emerged as the nation’s fastest-expanding big-city economies. Between 2000 and 2015, Dallas–Fort Worth boosted its net job numbers by 22.7 percent, and Houston expanded them by an even better 31.2 percent. Smaller Austin (38.2 percent job-base increase) and once-sleepy San Antonio (31.4 percent) have done just as well. New York, by way of comparison, increased its number of jobs in those years by just 10 percent, Los Angeles by 6.5 percent, and San Francisco by 5.2 percent, while Chicago actually lost net employment. And the Texas jobs are not just low-wage employment. Middle-class positions—those paying between 80 percent and 200 percent of the national median wage—have expanded 39 percent in Austin, 26 percent in Houston, and 21 percent in Dallas since 2001. These percentages far outpace the rate of middle-class job creation in San Francisco (6 percent), New York and Los Angeles (little progress), and Chicago (down 3 percent) over the same period.

    Snip.

    Among 52 American metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, San Antonio had the largest gain in its share of middle- and upper-income households—that is, the percentage of households in the lower-income category in the city actually dropped—from 2000 to 2014. Houston ranked sixth, Austin 13th, and Dallas–Fort Worth 25th in the Pew survey.

    Snip.

    In 2015, unemployment among Texas’s Hispanic population reached just 4.9 percent, the lowest for Latinos in the country—California’s rate tops 7 percent—and below the national average of 5.3 percent.

    Texas Latinos show an entrepreneurial streak. In a recent survey of the 150 best cities for Latino business owners, Texas accounted for 17 of the top 50 locations; Boston, New York, L.A., and San Francisco were all in the bottom third of the ranking. In a census measurement, San Antonio and Houston boasted far larger shares of Latino-owned firms than did heavily Hispanic L.A.

    In Texas, Hispanics are becoming homeowners, a traditional means of entering the middle class. In New York, barely a quarter of Latino households own their own homes, while in Los Angeles, 38 percent do. In Houston, by contrast, 52 percent of Hispanic households own homes, and in San Antonio, it’s 57 percent—matching the Latino homeownership rate for Texas as a whole. That’s well above the 46 percent national rate for Hispanics—and above the rate for all California households. (The same encouraging pattern exists for Texas’s African-Americans.)

    California and Texas, the nation’s most populous states, are often compared. Both have large Latino populations, for instance, but make no mistake: Texas’s, especially in large urban areas, is doing much better, and not just economically. Texas public schools could certainly be improved, but according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress—a high-quality assessment—Texas fourth- and eighth-graders scored equal to or better than California kids, including Hispanics, in math and reading. In Texas, the educational gap between Hispanics and white non-Hispanics was equal to or lower than it was in California in all cases.

    Though California, with 12 percent of the American population, has more than 35 percent of the nation’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare caseload—with Latinos constituting nearly half the adult rolls in the state—Texas, with under 9 percent of the country’s population, has less than 1 percent of the national welfare caseload. Further, according to the 2014 American Community Survey, Texas Hispanics had a significantly lower rate of out-of-wedlock births and a higher marriage rate than California Hispanics.

    In California, Latino politics increasingly revolves around ethnic identity and lobbying for government subsidies and benefits. In Texas, the goal is upward mobility through work. “There is more of an accommodationist spirit here,” says Rodrigo Saenz, an expert on Latino demographics and politics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where the student body is 50 percent Hispanic. It’s obvious which model best encourages economic opportunity.

  • Chuck DeVore explains how SB1234, a bill that establishes the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust, a state-run retirement fund for 7.5 million Californians, is actually a mechanism for forcing taxpayers to bail out public pensions:

    Per section 100004 (c) of the new law: Moneys in the program fund may be invested or reinvested by the treasurer or may be invested in whole or in part under contract with the Board of Administration of the Public Employees’ Retirement System or private money managers, or both, as determined by the board. What is the California Public Employees’ Retirement System or CalPERS for short? It’s America’s largest public pension fund with some 1.8 million current and retired government employees.

    But, as with many public retirement systems around the nation, CalPERS is grossly underfunded. Including the California teacher retirement system and smaller local government systems, the unfunded liability for future retirement payouts is about $991 billion, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s Pension Tracker run by Joe Nation, Ph.D., a former Democratic member of the California State Assembly.

    Since cash is amazingly fungible in government hands, dragooning some 7.5 million Californians into a retirement system that supports 1.8 million state government workers by levying what amounts to a 3 percent payroll tax is going to go a long way towards ensuring CalPERS’ short-term solvency while, perhaps more importantly, building public support for bailing out CalPERS’ looming trillion-dollar shortfall.

    7.5 million Californians will be made to care about CalPERS fiscal health.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California wants to offer ObamaCare to illegal aliens. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Governor Bush’s education reforms were a lot more successful than President Bush’s. “Educational outcomes overall have continued to improve in Texas.” A long article that points out the need for more reform.
  • Meanwhile, California’s teacher’s unions are trying to destroy charter schools.
  • “The Redding Police Department’s net personnel costs in fiscal 2007-08 were $21 million for 173 employees; in fiscal 2015-16 the costs were $22 million for 131 total employees. In fiscal 2015-16, the Redding Police Department is paying $47,500 per employee more than in fiscal 2007-08. The increase is to pay its unfunded pension liability.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Jose voters to vote on compromise pension reform that rolls back real pension reform passed four years ago. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Former [Orange County] Public Works administrator and convicted felon Carlos Bustamante, who served jail time this year for his sex crimes against county workers, lost a chunk of his pension benefits Monday after he was stripped of credit for the years he worked while committing the crimes.” But he’ll still get a pension. Also: “The board’s decision also means Bustamante is owed the nearly $56,000 he paid into the system during the 2 1/2 years he was committing crimes – meaning he’ll be refunded nearly $32,000 but will collect lower pension payments moving forward.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Los Angeles is suffering from a housing shortage. So naturally there’s a ballot initiative to make housing construction more expensive through requiring union kickbacks.
  • Here’s a long piece in City Journal by Watchdog.org’s Jon Cassidy. It’s a very balanced assessment of both the strengths and weaknesses of Texas’ governmental structure.

    The good news is that the benefits of the Texas model, overseen by its part-time legislature, are impossible to ignore. From 2000 to 2014, Texas created some 2.5 million nonfarm jobs, more than a quarter of the U.S. total for the period. In 2015, amid free-falling oil prices, Texas still managed to finish third among states in job growth, thanks to booming health care, education, professional services, manufacturing, hospitality, warehousing, and light industrial sectors. Construction is doing well, too. Wondrously cheap housing and pro-growth land-use policies draw people and business to the state. None of this diversification was centrally planned. It’s the product of an economy that’s wide open to foreign trade and immigration. Immigration has boosted native Texans’ income by an aggregate $3.4 billion to $6.6 billion a year. Income inequality is up, too—but that’s just another way of saying that high-paying jobs are growing fastest.

    To a large degree, the Texas model has worked because the Austin governing establishment is penned in, limited in the damage that it can inflict by a state constitution that not only keeps lawmakers from enacting new laws for one out of every two years but also severely restricts taxation and imposes budget caps. Texas has no state income tax, and instituting one would require voter approval. The legislature makes do with a sales tax, a handful of excise taxes, and an onerous gross-receipts tax that penalizes high-volume businesses. The Texas state government simply never has the money for bold new expansions of government. So it stays small, just as the original Texans wanted it. It’s not perfect and never will be, but the state is flourishing.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas state government has done a good job controlling debt. Local governments? Not so much. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Police are under fire in Sacramento and Los Angeles.
  • The high speed rail project is uniting Californians! In opposition to it:

    The rest of the story is the astonishingly widespread political opposition to the train by California voters these days, even though 53 percent of them approved the idea when it was on the state ballot in the November 2008 election. The opposition spans ideological left and right and demographic rich, poor, and middle-class: from wealthy Silicon Valley technocrats horrified that the ultra-fast rail lines, with overpasses only every 10 miles or so, would wreck their leafy, bicycle-friendly upscale-suburban neighborhoods, to Latino-majority working-class towns in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley that would be split in half by the train corridors, to equestrians in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills who would see their horse trails destroyed and environmentalists concerned about wetlands destruction in Northern California and threats to wildlife and endangered plant species in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest, through which several of the proposed train routes would plow.

  • Hat tip for the above to Amy Alkon, who also notes:

    The analyzed per mile rate would make a one-way SF to LA ticket cost about $190.5 Therefore, if the CHSRA’s assumed private operator must charge enough to break even, four tickets for a LA/SF round trip would cost at least $1,520. Conclusions: California’s 2009 median household income was $42,548.6. For a middle class household to ride the train LA-SF once would cost them about 4% of their annual pre-tax income.

  • San Francisco to city of Brisbane: “Build housing in your city so San Franciscans can enjoy it…or else!”
  • CalPERS tries to stick 700 person town of Loyalton with a $1.6 million bill as punishment for dropping out of the system…for four retirees. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The Bay Area Air Quality Management District needs more money so employees can enjoy more expensive junkets to New Orleans.
  • Want to sell signed books in California? A newly passed law requires you to issue a certificate of authenticity for any item over $5, including your name and address, even if it came from the publisher pre-signed. No COA? “You can be liable for TEN TIMES damages, plus attorneys fees. Call it a cool half mill, because you didn’t know you were supposed to issue a COA.” Word is they’re planning to change this idiocy, but that doesn’t excuse passing it in the first place.
  • Another California idiot law: A man can’t display historical Civil War paintings at the state fair because they have confederate flags in them. More here.
  • Did California just legalize child prostitution? Snopes says no, but I’ve seen California impose more tendentious readings on other laws. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown Just Signed a Tough-on-Rape Bill That’s So Bad, Even Feminists Hate It.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Voters in Apple Valley, California push for initiative to force voter approval on debt spending. Naturally the City Council puts their own initiative on the ballot to continue “eminent domain acquisition efforts unencumbered by another election.” Plus they illegally spent taxpayer money advertising in favor of their own initiative. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Harrison County in east Texas has been enjoying industrial gains.
  • Dallas has become a big hub for philanthropy. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California passes a hide an actor’s age upon request law. I sincerely doubt this will pass constitutional muster on first amendment and equal protection clause grounds. Plus, IMDB’s servers are in Washington state…
  • Verengo Inc, the largest installer of residential solar systems in southern California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday as it seeks to sell itself after defaulting on a bank loan.”
  • “The San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which owns the Souplantation chain, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection…Court papers show that Garden Fresh pins its troubles on declining sales, higher minimum wages, and higher employee benefit costs.”
  • DentalOne is relocating its headquarters from Ohio to Plano.
  • Texas vs. California Update for April 18, 2016

    Monday, April 18th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup, with the top news being California’s hastening their economic demise with a suicidal minimum wage hike:

  • Jerry Brown admits the minimum wage hike doesn’t make economic sense, then signs it anyway. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Who is really behind the minimum wage hike? The SEIU:

    California’s drive to hike the minimum wage has little to do with average workers and everything to do with the Golden State’s all-powerful government employee unions.

    Nationally, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is known for representing lower skilled workers. But, of the SEIU’s 2.1 million dues-paying members, half work for the government. In California, that translates to clout with much of the $50 million SEIU spent in the U.S. on political activities and lobbying spent in California. In fact, out of the 12 “yes” votes for the minimum wage bill in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on March 30, the SEIU had contributed almost $100,000 out of the three-quarters of a million contributed by public employee unions—yielding a far higher return on investment than anything Wall Street could produce.

    Unions represent about 59 percent of all government workers in California. Many union contracts are tied to the minimum wage — boost the minimum wage and government union workers reap a huge windfall, courtesy of the overworked California taxpayer.

  • “The impacts of the increase in minimum wage on workers at the very bottom of the pay scales might be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ramifications of the minimum wage increase.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Indeed, that hike will push government employee wages up all up the ladder.
  • “California minimum wage hike hits L.A. apparel industry: ‘The exodus has begun.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Texas’ job creation has helped keep the unemployment rate low at 4.3 percent, which has now been at or below the U.S. average rate for a remarkable 111 straight months.”
  • “Number of Californians Moving to Texas Hits Highest Level in Nearly a Decade”:

    “California’s taxes and regulations are crushing businesses, and there are more opportunities in Texas for people to start new companies, get good jobs, and create better lives for their families,” said Nathan Nascimento, the director of state initiatives at Freedom Partners. “When tax and regulatory climates are bad, people will move to better economic environments—this phenomenon isn’t a mystery, it’s how marketplaces work. Not only should other state governments take note of this, but so should the federal government.”

    According to Tom Gray of the Manhattan Institute, people may be leaving California for the employment opportunities, tax breaks, or less crowded living arrangements that other states offer.

    “States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average,” Gray wrote. “Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs.”

    “Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes,” Gray wrote. “States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that may cost drivers—taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs—are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.”

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • More on the same theme. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • It’s not just pensions: “The state paid $458 million in 2001 (0.6 percent of the general fund) for state worker retiree health care and is expected to pay $2 billion (1.7 percent of the general fund) next fiscal year — up 80 percent in just the last decade.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas border control succeeds where the Obama Administration fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • California and New York still lead Texas in billionaires. But for how long?
  • “The housing bubble may have collapsed, but the public-employee pension fund managers are still with us. If anything they’re bigger than ever, still insatiably seeking high returns just over the horizon line of another economic bubble.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How to fix San Francisco’s dysfunctional housing market. “Failed public policy and political leadership has resulted in a massive imbalance between how much the city’s population has grown this century versus how much housing has been built. The last thirteen years worth of new housing units built is approximately equal to the population growth of the last two years.” Also: “The city is forcing people out. Only the rich can live here because of the policies created by so-called progressives and so-called housing advocates.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • UC Berkley to cut 500 jobs over two years.
  • What does BART do faced with a $400 million projected deficit over the next decade? Dig deeper. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stanton, California, is the latest California municipality facing bankruptcy. “One of the main reasons the city can’t pay its bills without the sales tax is that it gives outlandish salaries and benefits to its government workers.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Yesterday was Tax Freedom Day in Texas.
  • Politically correct investing has already cost CalPERS $3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A federal jury on Wednesday convicted former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka of deliberately impeding an FBI investigation, capping a jail abuse and obstruction scandal that reached to the top echelons of the Sheriff’s Department.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Top California Democratic assemblyman Roger Hernandez accused of domestic violence.
  • Calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign, she of the supergenius “pay $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative postings about the pepper-spraying of students in 2011” plan.
  • California beachwear retailer Pacific Sunwear files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • California retailer Sport Chalet is also shutting down.
  • 75% of current Toyota employees are willing to move to Texas to work at Toyota’s new U.S. headquarters.
  • California isn’t the only place delusional politicians are pushing a “railroad to nowhere.” The Lone Star Rail District wants to keep getting and spending money despite the fact that Union Pacific said they couldn’t use their freight lines for a commuter train between Austin and San Antonio. The tiny little problem being that the Union Pacific line was the only one under consideration…
  • Texas vs. California: Cali Goes Batshit Insane Edition

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

    California has long had a tenuous grasp of what the rest of us regard as consensus reality. But two new pieces of legislation suggest they’ve gone off the deep end into full Victimhood Identity Politics land:

  • First, they decided that police shootings wouldn’t be subject to the grand jury process, because what’s a little things like two centuries of due process and the fifth amendment to the Constitution when there are policemen to be railroaded to satisfy black protesters?
  • They also decided to purge the words “illegal alien” from state statutes, because what’s mere law when there’s political correctness to be pandered to?
  • Of course, that’s not all that’s new on the Texas vs. California front:

  • “California taxpayers paid out big bucks to state workers in 2014. How much? More than the Gross Domestic Product of 100 countries, according to new data published by the State Controller’s office. In 2014, more than 650,000 state employees earned a total of $32 billion in wages and benefits.” It gets better: “Nine hundred sixty-nine state employees earned more than the President of the United States.” Added irony:

    The lowest paid average workers represented agencies focused on the environment, women and people with disabilities. According to the state’s 2014 payroll data, the average salary for the 11 state employees at the California Commission on Disability Access was just $15,213 per year, slightly more than the $14,494 average salary paid to the four employees at the Commission on the Status of Women.

  • There is no California. Only Zuul…
  • Texas unemployment rate: 4.2%. California unemployment rate: 6.2%. (Hat tip: WILLism’s Twitter feed.)
  • Los Angeles’ new minimum wage has wrecked hotel employment. Or maybe just non-illegal alien employment… (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Why Public Services in California Decline Even As Revenues Rise. “Until California’s leaders address the three elephants – retirement, healthcare and corrections costs — that are crowding out public services and causing unproductive tax and fee increases, citizens will continue to suffer and inequality will continue to grow.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Chuck Devore on what makes Texas friendly to business: less red tape and lower taxes.
  • Voters to San Jose City Council: We want pension reform! San Jose City Council to voters: Get stuffed! (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • TV’s CHiPS never seemed to be involved in ethics scandals the way the current administration is, including no-bid contracts to European companies. (Bonus: it’s also suitable for Dwight’s Art Acevedo watch.)
  • California’s “Green Jobs Initiative” spent $297 million to create 1,700 jobs.
  • More on the same theme, and Tom Steyer wasting $29.6 million of his own money pushing it, from City Journal.
  • California’s SFX: from billion dollar company to bankruptcy.
  • Texas vs. California Update for June 24, 2015

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

    It’s been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, so this is going to be a meaty one:

  • The Texas Comptroller has released a 50 state overview of how Texas stacks up to other states. There’s a lot of information to mine there. A few nuggets”
    • Texas ranks first as the best state for business, while California ranks 50th.

    • Texas ranks as the best state for net migration; California ranks 49th.
    • There are area in need of improvement. Texas ranks 49th in states whose residents over 25 hold high school diplomas. California? 50th.
  • Texas has enjoyed 100 straight months of unemployment below the national average. (Now it’s 101 months, but I can’ find a link right at the moment.)
  • The previously mentioned California pension reform ballot initiative has been filed.
  • Can it help California voters avoid pension armageddon?
  • “Low Taxes And Economic Opportunity In Texas Lead To Youth Population Boom.”
  • I was unaware that CalPERS owns its own planned community in Mountain House, California, and which it’s invested more than $1 billion in. A community that in 2008 was the most underwater in terms of mortgages in the entire country, and which was estimated to be worth only $200 million at some point. And now their water is being cut off due to the drought. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Speaking of the drought, California is running on empty:

    We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems — from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River — that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population. Without them, Atherton would look like Porterville.

    Quiet engineers in the shadows make it all work; the loud activists in the media seek to make it unwind. These transfers have sterling legal authority and first claims on mountain and northern state water. If Latinos in Lemon Cove are going without household water, Pyramid Lake on I-5 or Crystal Springs Reservoir on 280 are still full to the brim.

    Why then do those who have access to water delivered in a most unnatural way seek to curtail supplies to others? In a word, because they are either ignorant of where their own water comes from or they have not a shred of concern for others less blessed, or both. We will confirm this ethical schizophrenia should a fifth year of drought ensue. Then even the most sacrosanct rights of transferred water will not be sufficient to accommodate the San Francisco and Los Angeles basins. Mass panic and outrage will probably follow, and no one will care a bit about the delta smelt, or a few hundred salmon artificially planted into the San Joaquin River watershed, or a spotted toad that holds up construction of an urgently needed reservoir.

    The greens who pontificate about the need to return the San Joaquin watershed to its 19th-century ecosystem will become pariahs. When the taps run dry in Hillsborough and Bel-Air, very powerful people will demand water for their desert environs, which will in fact begin to return to the deserts that they always were as the thin veneer of civilization is scraped away.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Hey, remember how California’s are always saying “Sure, Texas has lower taxes, lower cost of living, and better job growth, but California’s awesomely moderate weather beats Texas’ summer heat hands down!”?

    Yeah, not so much this year… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • California legislature votes to reinstate Kelo-like seizure of private property for private development use. Shamefully, 12 Republicans joined Democrats to vote for eminent domain abuse.
  • “Pension payments are starving basic city services.”
  • A Marin County grand jury wants more openness about government employee salaries and pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Of the four “minority majority” states, minorities in Texas are doing best.
  • California farm workers are suing to get the United Farm Workers out of their lives and pockets.
  • Among cities with high prices and stagnant wage growth, California has the nine worst, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose.
  • Because California homes just didn’t cost enough already, new energy regulations are going to make them even more expensive.
  • The San Bernardino sheriff’s department has used a “stingray” to capture cell phone communication over 300 times in the past year or so without a warrant.
  • Apple continues expanding in Austin.
  • Texas is one of the states General Electric might leave Connecticut for.
  • California-based retailer Anna’s Linens files for Chapter 11.
  • California holding company Premier Ventures uses yet another bankruptcy filing to prevent an Akron, Ohio mall from being sold at auction. (Previously.)
  • Not news: California bankruptcy filing. Still not news: From a fraud judgment. News: For a lawsuit first filed in 1989.
  • Texas vs. California Update for May 14, 2014

    Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Chief Executive ranks the states for business friendliness. Once again, Texas is ranked the best state for doing business in. And once again, California is ranked the worst.

    “Texas is the best state for business and I don’t see anything to slow TX down. The education and quality of eligible employees is excellent right now. Business is booming and growing quicker and more rapidly in 2014 than any other year. It’s an exciting time in Texas.”

    “California goes out of its way to be anti-business and particularly where one might put manufacturing and/or distribution operations.”

    “California continues to lead in disincentives for growth businesses to stay.”

    “California’s attitude toward business makes you question why anyone would build a business there.”

    “California could hardly do more to discourage business if that was the goal. The regulatory, tax and political environment are crushing.”

  • California Governor Jerry Brown unveils a budget that takes baby steps toward actual pension and budget reform. Naturally Brown’s fellow Democrats in the state legislature are fighting him every step of the way.
  • Texas vs. California? Try Houston vs. California:

  • California state rep thinks the minimum wage in the state should be $26 an hour. I agree, especially if they call it the “Let’s Drive All Remaining Business to Texas Act”…
  • When he was a San Diego City Councilman, California Democrat Congressman Scott Peters not only underfunded the city’s pension plan while hiking benefits, he indemnified the pension board for doing so.
  • More on Peters, via an attack ad:

  • “A new analysis of California’s independent public retirement systems suggests they are more woefully underfunded than they appear, and that Los Angeles County is among the worst of all.”
  • Bankrupt Stockton’s last remaining big creditor refuses to take 1¢ on the dollar for debts the city owes. (Remember: State pension fund CalPERS didn’t take any haircut at all.)
  • In bankrupt San Bernardino, talks between the city and CalPERS are making the federal judge overseeing the case impatient.
  • Chuck DeVore on why Texans trust their state government more than most:

    Then factors that appear to explain from 13 percent to 30 percent of the differences in trust among the states: rate of union membership,with more trust in states with lower union membership; state’s level of soft tyranny, a measure of the power of state government over its people; percentage of state and local taxes as a share of income, with lower taxes leading to more trust; the right to keep and bear arms, with citizens trusting a government that trusts them to defend themselves; a business-friendly lawsuit climate; the days the legislature is in session, with less trust as the legislature approaches full-time; and the average commute time, with less time spent in traffic leading to more trust.

    Lastly, a combination of from two to four of the previous factors correlates to 34 to 41 percent of the trust in each state with a mix of four: taxes, gun rights, lawsuit reform and commute time, showing the highest link to trust. Comparatively speaking, Texas lawmakers have done well in these four areas of public policy.

    When building trust in state government, enacting liberty-minded legislation is a good place to start.

  • But it isn’t all sunshine in Texas Local debt continues to rise, though Eanes School District voters finally decide that they’ve had enough and defeat a bond proposal.
  • Texas vs. California Update for June 27, 2013

    Thursday, June 27th, 2013

    Time for another update of just how hard Texas is kicking California’s ass:

  • Chuck DeVore has the skinny on California’s recent “growth:”

    The BEA revised California’s real GDP growth downward from 2009 to 2011 in each of three years by a cumulative 2.6 percent, the third-largest negative revision in the nation.

    In other words, California’s economy shrank an additional 2.6 percent before it grew 3.5 percent.

    So, in the past five years California’s real GDP contracted 0.3 percent, one of ten states where economic activity was less in 2012 than it was in 2008.

    By contrast, the BEA revised Texas’ growth upward by 0.5 percent from 2009 to 2011.

    Texas’ newly revised real GDP growth from 2009 to 2012 was 13 percent.

    From 2009 to 2012, California’s share of the U.S. economy shrank from 13.1 percent to 12.9 percent while Texas’ portion of the American economy increased from 8.2 percent to 9 percent.

  • Walter Russell Mead joins in:

    What should be the Federer vs. Nadal of state-level competition has become a lopsided trouncing: Texas has humiliated its opponent in straight sets. The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis is out with its state-by-state economic growth numbers for 2012, and Texas is dancing the two-step all over California’s “recovery.”

  • “Texas and California provide real-world results from the so-called laboratory of democracy — the states. The results aren’t even close. Texas wins and has been winning for years. California, champion of the big government blue state model, is in a death spiral. Texas, champion of the small government red state model, continues to grow and lead the way.”
  • California Democrats lose their supermajority, so they have to get one last “screw you” tax hike in.
  • California’s legislature has the highest salary in the country. (By contrast, Texas legislators make $600 per month, plus a per diem that’s currently $139 for every day the Legislature is in session.)
  • The Nanny State wants to regulate nannies. “Yo dawg, I heard you liked nanny states, so I put the nanny state in charge of your nannies so the nanny state nannies can nanny nannies.”
  • Billionaire Texas Democrat seeks to reform California pensions. Might want to pop some popcorn for this one. (Arnold does indeed give primarily to Democrats, but recently he’s also made contributions to Ted Cruz ($2400 in 2011), Tom Coburn and the RNC, plus a relatively paltry $200 donation to John McCain in 2010.)
  • Remember: If you’re going to kill somebody, it’s far better to do it in California than Texas. “At the pace the state has executed inmates over the last 35 years – roughly one execution every three years – it would take the state about 2,000 years to clear its backlog.” Why is why rail-traveling serial killer Angel Maturino Resendiz was executed after 7 years in a Texas prison, but “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez spent 23 years living at the expense of California taxpayers before dying of natural causes.
  • California city of Atwater avoids bankruptcy by the skin of its teeth. Naturally, public employee unions are saying that now is the time to get raises…
  • Speaking of unions, even they are having problems with ObamaCare.
  • United Farm Workers picket United Farm Workers. No, that’s not a typo.
  • Texas vs. California Update for Feburay 7, 2013

    Thursday, February 7th, 2013

    No sooner did I post yesterday’s California vs. Texas update than all manner of related news pours forth.

    First, I missed the news that John Stossel did a story on Texas vs. California back in January. That link takes you to the whole thing (which i haven’t watched yet), but here’s a taste featuring ex-Californian and current Texas Public Policy Foundation vice president of policy Chuck DeVore:

    Naturally, the states media outlets are trying to downplay Texas’ advantage. Fortunately, here’s DeVore again debunking their claims good and hard. Read the whole thing.

    Earlier this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry went on the offensive with a radio ad in California suggesting businesses relocate here:

    Needless to say, California’s liberal establishment is perturbed.

    Brief Impressions of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2013 Policy Orientation

    Monday, January 14th, 2013

    I enjoyed attending what little I could of the Texas Public Policy Foundation 2013 policy orientation held January 9-11. Here are a few quick and largely random impressions:

    Because I just started a new day job, I wasn’t able to attend until Thursday evening, which meant I got to enjoy Austin’s lovely rush-hour traffic on Mopac and only got to hear about half of Ted Cruz’s pre-recorded message. (Cruz was originally scheduled to appear with Sen. John Cornyn, but had to fly off to Afghanistan and Israel on a Senate Foreign Relations trip. Cruz also appeared at lunch that day, a session I was unable to attend.) Then it was time for Texas’ senior U.S. Senator, John Cornyn, to be interviewed.

    He defended the Fiscal Cliff deal as necessary to avoid a huge tax increase. He talked about the Senate’s inability to pass a budget. “Shame doesn’t work on Harry Reid.”

    On foreign and defense policy, he noted (correctly) that keeping the American people safe is the number one responsibility of government. Cornyn says he’s opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel and dinged Obama over Benghazi. “If the President and his Administration had been honest about Benghazi, they’re wouldn’t have been a scandal.” (Paraphrased.)

    Cornyn also displayed a certain tone-deafness in regard to his audience. When asked to mention possible 2016 GOP Presidential candidates, the first name Cornyn mentioned was NJ Governor Chris Christie, which drew audible groans and hisses from the audience, for good reason.

    After the Cornyn speech there was a blogger met-and-great at Rivals Steakhouse. I met a bevy of state Reps whose names quickly blurred together, as well as Ashley Sewell, AKA @TXTrendyChick, who I had already been following on Twitter, and a bunch of other bloggers. Most interesting bit of off-the-record gossip: Confirmation of my Rick Perry hopped-up on goofballs theory. “When I saw him running around Iowa in flats I knew he was in a lot of pain. The man practically sleeps in boots.”

    On Friday, I took a long lunch to attend the Newt Gingrich luncheon and signing. I sat one seat down from the indefatigable Holly Hansen (who has her own, far more extensive coverage), and @TXTrendyChick promptly plopped down between us. Obviously our table was the place to be.

    I get to hang out with all the cool chicks!

    Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was Gingrich’s warm-up speaker. Dewhurst has improved somewhat since his losing Senate race against Ted Cruz last year, but he’s still not a natural speaker. He tries to cram too many policy points into a speech, and isn’t skilled enough to distinguish between major and minor points. When it comes to conservative policy, he seems to know the words, but doesn’t hear the music.

    Dewhurst’s four points as to why Texas is doing better than any other state (1. We keep our spending low, 2. Keep our taxes low, 3. A light regulatory hand, and 4. Keep state government out of the way) were all very solid. He also promised additional budget cutting; let’s hope he follows through.

    Most interesting parts of Dewhurst’s speech: A clumsily-phrased plea for welfare reform (“I’m not going to pay people to sit on the couch and do drugs,” a proclamation that will no doubt disappoint many members of Occupy Wall Street), and a proposal to arm teachers in the classroom.

    Gingrich came on stage to a standing ovation. He said it was unfair for other states to compete with Texas, since we weren’t raising taxes and spending like California. (This is what people call “sarcasm.”)

    This was definitely Gingrich 2.0 (or maybe 8.6), an idea-a-minute futurist (I’d like to see him and Bruce Sterling bounce off each other for a couple of hours someday). He was saying things about America 2.0, ubiquitous diagnostic cell phones as a health care initiative, having the programmers behind World of Warcraft come up with ways to teach our kids, and puters mkn kdz wrt btr (I iz skptical). It was even more scatter-shot than Dewhurst, but seemed a lot more organic. And he had one truly fascinating factoid: Students taking Stanford’s online classes did better on tests than the ones taking classes in person.

    Gingrich seems genuinely optimistic about America’s future, which is a nice contrast with many of us after the 2012 election.

    After the speech I managed to get him to sign two books for me, To Renew America, and Jim Wright’s Reflections of a Public Man, which he was quite amused by.

    A few more luminaries:

    State Senator Larry Taylor

    State Rep Marsha Farney

    A very dapper Chuck DeVore. He wasn’t born in Texas, but he got here as quickly as he could.

    Hey girl, it’s Josh Trevino!

    Apologies to anyone I didn’t mention, didn’t run into, or didn’t get a picture of (some just didn’t come out well). It was a busy two days!

    And congratulations to TPPF honcho David Guenthner and his many minions, for all the hard work in carrying this off:

    In addition to the copy of Texas Got it Right handed out to everyone, David thrust a copy of DeVore’s The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State into my hands. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to say more about both in the not-so-distant future.

    Texas vs. California: First 2013 Roundup

    Friday, January 4th, 2013

    Judging from the Fiscal Cliff votes, the United States appears to be eager to follow in the footsteps of Greece and California, rushing to unsustainable spending, crushing debt loads and inevitable bankruptcy, rather than following the lead of Texas and the Red State model of debt-free limited government and free enterprise. So let’s see where the two states are, shall we?

  • Via Reason comes a link to the website Pension Tsunami, which contains much of interest for those charting California’s decline.
  • One method California cities are using to continue funding their heroin outrageous pension spending habit is issuing Pension Obligation Bonds, where they sell bonds to pay for pension obligations and then invest them. Indeed, some that got burned by the tactic in the 1990s (like Oakland) are trying again. “Bonds issued in 1997 were, on average, underwater in 2007, even before the stock market crash…’That’s like a compulsive gambler telling you that he has to bet it all on red to make up for his past losses.’”
  • Bankruptcy is the best bet most cities have for getting out of their crushing health and retirement obligations to public workers….Government employee compensation, mostly for health and retirement, is at the heart of nearly all the current and looming municipal bankruptcies across the country.”
  • Federal judge to Calpers: No, you can’t rewrite bankruptcy laws to save outrageous union pensions. Not yours.
  • California: Pensions or Police? Pick one.
  • Stockton attempts to pull a Chrysler, attempting to screw its bondholders in a bid to leave outrageous union pensions untouched.
  • While California wonders how to fill it’s perpetual budget shortfall, Texas debates what to do with its surplus.
  • Over at TPPF, Chuck Devore wonders why Californians don’t stage a tax revolt. “In the meantime, Texas will be more than happy to receive into its welcoming arms people who want to work hard, invest, and create jobs.”
  • Want a glimpse of California’s future? Spain is running out of pension fund to raid.