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Op-Ed: The Texas Miracle Won't Last

As economic migration continues to swell its population, Texas has been heralded by some as a new California. But Johnny Sanphillippo argues that the Lone Star State's boom just isn't sustainable.
June 22, 2016, 10am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Anyone who's searched for housing in California these days can understand the appeal of Texas. Despite (or because of) its powerhouse economy, California is losing a stream of migrants to its rival and peer.

California's troubles have been debated ad nauseam. Johnny Sanphillippo writes, "Conservatives love to blame pointed headed liberals and their tree-hugging tendencies for the decline. Liberals love to blame conservatives and their thinly veiled racism and greed. But it was absolutely a group effort with plenty of overlap. [...] Don't tax me was the middle ground everyone coalesced around from Marin to Orange County. Don't change the character of our community echoed from San Francisco to Costa Mesa."

But the economic charms of Texas may soon fade. Risks include an environmentally and fiscally unsustainable pattern of development and the state's conservative politics, which will likely forestall California-style regulation. "There may be an endless amount of flat easily developed land in Texas, but the cost of maintaining an equally endless amount of horizontal infrastructure will inevitably outstrip tax revenue over the next generation. The Texas Department of Transportation is already hitting the wall in terms of revenue-to-expenditure."

Moreover, "Texas has long enjoyed the booms of hydrocarbon production and muddled through the busts of low oil  and gas prices. But the cheap, easily extracted stuff is mostly gone after a century of drilling. [...] At a certain point, even Texas will have to start making hard choices about how to keep all the cars and air conditioners humming along in a low cost, low tax, low regulation environment."

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Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 in Strong Towns
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