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Lone Star tarnished?


The following ran in the Feb. 13, 2012, edition of The Houston Chronicle. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

February 24, 2012

By Peggy Fikak

AUSTIN - When Gov. Rick Perry made his political re-emergence, he sounded the same as he ever did.

No tax increases, even though education and human services officials are sounding dire budget warnings. No over-regulating. A pox on what he calls over-suing.

"The path that we've pursued is one of personal prosperity by limiting the size and the scope of government. ... It works," Perry told a GOP fundraiser in Round Rock last week in his first public speech since ditching his presidential bid.

Perry's got some figures on his side: growth in the number of jobs, an unemployment rate lower than the national average and a glimmer of hope from rebounding tax collections.

But there's more to the story. Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson is the latest to fill out the tale of Texas in a book coming out this week, Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy.

"There is a Texas miracle if you think of it very narrowly in terms of very steady population growth at well above the national average, and job growth above the national average - thinking of job growth as increase in number of jobs," Jillson said. "Because if you look at income, or if you look at educational performance, access to health care, poverty and a whole range of social policy measures, Texas continues to lag the nation by dramatic margins."

As lawmakers looking ahead to another fiscally challenging legislative session in 2013 - they must deal with billions of dollars in pushed-off Medicaid costs and are facing another school finance lawsuit, for starters - Jillson's book offers a look at income and issues including education plus an examination of Texas' tax system. ...