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off the charts

Texas Model Isn’t All That It Seems

Texas Governor Rick Perry heads to New York this weekend to try to attract businesses by presenting Texas as a prosperous, business-friendly state.  To be sure, the number of people and jobs in Texas has grown in recent decades; groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council have cited it as a model for other states because of its low taxes.  But, as our 2012 report explains, Texas’ growth has left many residents behind, and the state lacks the educated workforce, good schools, and other infrastructure that business leaders say they value most.

For example:

  • Texas has the second-highest share of minimum-wage workers of any state. In 2012, 7.5 percent of Texas hourly workers were paid at or below the minimum wage, more than any other state except Idaho and well above the 4.7 percent national average.
  • In part because wages are low, a large share of Texans are poor. Some 17.9 percent of Texas families live in poverty according to the most recent Census data (2010-2011 average), the seventh-highest rate in the nation and well above the national average of 15.1 percent (see graph).
  • Twenty-four percent of Texans lack health insurance, well above the national average of 16.0 percent. Many Texas employers don’t provide health insurance for their workers.  Just over half of the state’s non-elderly residents have employer-provided health insurance — the fifth-worst rate among the states.  And Texas’ Medicaid program fails to cover many who can’t afford health insurance, yet Governor Perry has rejected health reform’s Medicaid expansion.
  • Texas invests less than most states in education, healthcare, infrastructure and other public services important to quality of life. Those services have suffered as a result. For example, the state ranks 43th among states in education spending per pupil and is tied for last in the share of its population with a high school diploma.

Texas also spends less on health care, per person, than all but four states and has fewer doctors per resident than all but eight states.  In addition, Texas ranks 46th in the nation on highway spending.