Texas, Not So Miraculous

In States On

AUSTIN, Tex. — Call it the season of Texas’ discontent. Of course there was Hurricane Harvey, which blasted the coastline, leaving cities flooded and an estimated $180 billion in damage. But Harvey is just the headline.

There’s also the dysfunctional, ideologically driven State Legislature, which spent the last weeks of this year’s session debating, of all things, who gets to use which bathroom. Then there’s the oil and gas sector, which, as it has so many times before, expanded into a bubble and then, as global energy prices sank, popped, taking thousands of jobs with it.

Texas’ woes are interconnected. Rising energy prices allow politicians to take their hands off the legislative wheel. Less attention to smart, controlled growth at the state and local level allowed unchecked sprawl along the coast. And now declining revenues will make it harder for the state to address its very real needs, assuming the Legislature can get its act together. The silver lining to this tale? It finally seems to be dawning on people that low taxes, less regulation and more oil are no substitute for actually governing.

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