Message to Texas workers: Relax. You’ve earned it.
Just like in years past, this Labor Day weekend is your chance to stay in, grill out and unwind. But perhaps even more so than before, it’s important that we also think about the prosperous economic times we enjoy — and the knife’s edge that prosperity rests upon.
Without debate, Texas’ economy is booming. The state’s unemployment rate stood at a paltry 3.4 percent in July 2019, down from an already low 3.8 percent one year prior. Over the last 12 months, Texas employers created a huge number of new jobs (+323,300), besting both California (+311,800) and Florida (+227,200). And for the first quarter of 2019, the average weekly wage in the Lone Star State increased to $1,204, compared to $1,184 nationally.
Things are going incredibly well in the nation’s second-largest economy. Job creators are firing on all cylinders and job seekers are the beneficiaries. So how did this happen?
For years, the Texas Legislature has governed through a conservative lens tightly focused on low taxes and limited government. By putting this ideological framework in place and holding fast to it, the statehouse has created the conditions necessary for robust economic growth.
What does this look like in practice? The just-concluded legislative session offers a clue. This time around, state lawmakers cut property taxes by more than $5 billion, slowed the growth of future tax bills unless voters say otherwise, smashed a handful of local regulations — including one dictating whether kids can run lemonade stands — and generally minimized government to maximize liberty.
The net effect of those policies will be to help fuel the creation of startups, incentivize business relocations, add job openings and stimulate wage growth — all things that most Texans support, but especially attractive to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
But while things are trending in the right direction, there are a few motivated by politics and passion who seem determined to change things entirely.
A small but vocal group of liberal local officials has stormed the stage recently, offering hollow promises and radical city-centric plans. Most hail from large urban centers and sport a government-knows-best mentality that’s hard to miss. All pose a serious threat to Texas’ economy and way of life if their vision comes to fruition.
One illustration of what may await: mandatory paid sick leave.
Some city governments — acting contrary to state law — have begun forcing business owners to give their employees certain benefits. The mandate came despite widespread pushback from the business community, warning of the dire workplace consequences: fewer jobs, slower wage growth, and some even closing their doors.
That’s just the start of it. The big government crowd has an anti-worker agenda a mile long, undergirded by higher taxes, tougher regulations and lots of debt. All of which will hurt the Texas economy.
So think hard this Labor Day. Sharp choices are ahead that will shape or reshape Texas for years to come. We must decide what kind of economy we want — one filled with free-market opportunity or one rife with government diktats.
The choice is yours.