The Texas economy, apparently. Today, CNBC named The Lone Star State America's Top State for Business in 2010. We topped Virginia, who won last year. But, a look at where we stand in other areas leaves me feeling underwhelmed about this victory.
The categories CNBC used are:
* Cost of Doing Business (450 points)
* Workforce (350 points)
* Quality of Life (350 points)
* Economy (314 points)
* Transportation & Infrastructure (300 points)
* Technology & Innovation (250 points)
* Education (175 points)
* Business Friendliness (175 points)
* Access to Capital (50 points)
* Cost of Living (25 points)
Texas has a lot going for it economically, including 64 Fortune 500 companies (more than any other state), and a stronger real estate market than the rest of the country... not that that's saying much these days.
Governor Rick Perry often attributes our success to the state's low tax, low regulation economy -- especially compared to California. Texas is going into the 2011 legislative session with a budget deficit of up to $17 billion. Compared to other states that ain't too bad, but state agencies are hustling to slash their budgets at Perry's request, and no one is going to be surprised when health care, education and the environment get buried under border security, energy, etc. Wait, did I just say "state agency" and "hustling" in the same sentence?
Even the booming capital city of Austin is in the middle of a shortfall between $18 and $28 million.
Still, citizens typically applaud the Texas system of doing business.
A poll produced by the Texas Politics Project at UT earlier this year shows that 18 percent of Texans strongly believe that the Texas state government serves as a good model for other states, and 39 percent somewhat agree. In addition, 47 percent of people who feel the Texas economy is improving agree that Texas is a good economic roll model for other states and 32 percent of people who think the Texas economy is declining also think we're a good roll model.
The story of Texas and CNBC rankings isn't all a cowboy fairy tale.
Texas didn't rank so high when it came to education. In fact, not even in the top five. We ranked 30th. I wonder if it has anything to do with the infamous State Board of Education? All they seem to do for us lately is bring in a lot of national media and cause uproar and embarrassment. (Though when it comes to Texas politicians and the national press, uproar and embarrassment are two words that readily come to mind. Wasn't it our governor who said the BP oil spill was an act of God?)
Texas has historically led the way when it comes to technology and business, and that's certainly commendable. But, we aren't setting any positive records in the arenas of education, the environment or health care. In fact, we're stuck at the bottom of those barrels, bragging about our economy while we hang out there.
Aside from our low CNBC education rating, we're number 39 in America's Health Ratings, which is sad for a state with such a strong economy. We're also the 13th most obese state. Although we're leading the pack with renewable energy, a Forbes list placed Texas as the 34th greenest state.
Come on, this is Texas. Texans are resourceful, compassionate, hard-working and arrogant as hell. We should be dominating in education, health care and the environment.
But for now, we'll continue blowing smoke about our economy.