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TPPF’s statement on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s mischaracterization of The Texas Model


AUSTIN – According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation experts Chuck DeVore and James Quintero, The Texas Model of low taxes, limited government, and free markets has transformed the Lone Star State into America’s economic engine and given rise to the most vibrant job market in the nation. Texas’ conservative governing approach has attracted a handful of big government detractors, eager to try to discredit the Texas Model. 

However, California Gov. Jerry Brown, who, in a recent interview with American Public Media’s “Marketplace” offered a number of curious critiques, all of which fall flat.

“Gov. Brown’s contention about ‘ten or eleven’ percent of all Texas workers earning at or below the minimum wage is a stale meme that was debunked long ago,” said TPPF’s Vice President and former California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. The New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman trotted out this falsehood only to correct it about a week later. 

“Further, big government apologists like Brown often forget that while overall wages may be slightly less, Texas has a cost-of-living some 42 percent lower than California’s, a point we explore in-depth in the Foundation’s new book, ‘The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America.’ So when you move beyond just a surface comparison of things like per capita income and household income and adjust for cost-of-living, the economic and financial outlook for Texans is much better than for the average Californian. In fact, a worker earning the minimum wage in Texas can buy far more goods and services than his counterpart in California. 

“The Governor’s throwing around of the term ‘investing’ is nothing more than code for big government spending, the net effect of which has made the average Californian poorer,” said James Quintero, TPPF’s Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst. “One needs only to look at the government’s own data to see this. A quick look at the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Index shows that from 2009 – 2011 California had a poverty rate of 23.5 percent, the highest in the nation and significantly higher than in Texas, even though both states have very similar demographic profiles. This shows which approach in governing—big government or smaller government—is most conducive to prosperity and lifting people out of poverty.”


Chuck DeVore is Vice President of Communications and Senior Fellow for the Center for Fiscal Policy with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.


James Quintero is senior policy analyst for the Center for Fiscal Policy with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.


The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.