2015 Archives

The facts about Rick Perry and the ‘Texas Miracle’


The following is from the June 8, 2015, edition of The Washington Post. Bernard Weinstein, economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

June 11, 2015

By Max Ehrenfreund

Now that he's declared that he's running for president, plan on hearing plenty more from Rick Perry about what he's called the "Texas Miracle" -- the state's impressive economic performance during his long tenure as governor.

"We were the engine of growth because we had a simple formula: control taxes and spending, implement smart regulations, invest in an educated workforce, and stop frivolous lawsuits," the former governor said in his speech announcing his campaign late last week.

Whole books have been written about why the state is doing well and whether Perry's conservative, free-market economic agenda deserves any of the credit. This post answers a few key questions you may have if you're new to the debate about Texas. . . 

Does Perry get the credit for any of this?  

"I would say, 'Yes,' " said Bernard Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University. "I would say he deserves some credit."

It's always hard to know how much of an economic trend is due to the actions of a particular policymaker. Perry was an influential governor for 14 years, but Texas is a big and complicated place.

Weinstein praised Perry for his controversial reforms directed at the reducing cost of tort and workers compensation for businesses. Above all, though, Weinstein said Perry had been effective in persuading firms to move to Texas from other states.

"Obviously, he didn't control the price of oil, but he's been a very good spokesperson and a very good salesperson for the state of Texas," Weinstein said.

Booms and busts along with the price of oil have been part of Texas's history for decades. Recently, high oil prices, along with the new technology of fracking, have brought more business to the state, although there's debate about just how much.

Read the full story.

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