Yes, a Little State Can Learn from a Big State
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if this sort of thing were written about our small Northeastern state?
[Texas] Republicans did not take the bait [to raise taxes]. Governor [Rick] Perry told the legislature to not even bother sending him a bill with a tax increase, because he would not sign it. Instead, he submitted a budget in which every spending line was a zero — an act of political theater, to be sure, but an effective one. Republicans ran a classic good-cop/bad-cop routine on the bureaucracy, with Perry taking a hard line against tax increases and Rep. Talmadge Heflin, at that time the new Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee, meeting with the heads of the state’s 35 largest agencies and asking them to start from zero. The agency chiefs were told that they had to keep spending at less than 87.5 percent of the previous year’s level, draconian cuts by the standards of most state governments, but they were given maximum flexibility in achieving those goals.
Particulars can vary; ultimately the philosophy is what’s important:
“There are certain truths that have to be agreed to,” Perry says. “One is that economies grow when they are free from over-taxation, over-regulation, over-litigation, and they have a skilled work force. Government isn’t difficult in theory — don’t spend all the money, keep taxes low, have a fair and predictable regulatory climate, keep frivolous lawsuits to a minimum, and fund an accountable education system so that you have a skilled work force available. Then get the hell out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best. It’s simple in theory, but it’s difficult to accomplish. In Texas, we’ve implemented that theory, and it’s produced an economy that has no match in America.”
That description looks like the photo negative of Rhode Island.