Add another notch to Texas’s growing list of achievements: The Lone Star State is projected to run an $8.8 billion dollar surplus at a time when other states are struggling to pay the bills. The surplus comes thanks to a mix of spending cuts, increased tax revenue, economic recovery, and the shale gas boom. As the Economist reports, this has given lawmakers the opportunity to fund new spending priorities during a slow national recovery:
The state’s Republican leaders are apparently willing to spend more money this time round than last, and the state will probably allocate billions of dollars to much-needed infrastructure improvements. Water has emerged as a priority, and roads may also get some attention. The Republicans seem less interested, though, in operational expenses such as school funding, to the irritation of Democrats, who take the new estimate as a sign that the state can afford to come out of its defensive crouch.
The results are hard to argue with. In addition to a budget surplus, Texas has strong job growth, lower taxes, a better business climate than most other states, and schools that are among the highest-performing in the nation despite the Democrats’ charges that they are underfunded.
The Economist notes that other red states are looking to Texas for policy inspriation. It isn’t difficult to see why.
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