RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, Host:
NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports from Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN: Draw a rectangle on a piece of paper and put your pen in the bottom left hand corner. Now make a straight line across the box to the top right hand corner. You've just drawn a graph of employment in Texas for the last 20 years. Really, that's what it looks like. From Governor Ann Richards to Governor George Bush to Governor Rick Perry, the state has exploded in population and jobs.
RICHARD FISHER: So it's not just the last 10 years. This has been going on now for 21 years. At least. I'm just giving you a date that I picked out of the blue.
GOODWYN: Bill Hammond is president of the Texas Association of Business.
BILL HAMMOND: We're growing. About 80,000 kids a year are coming into our public school system and those children are going to have to be accommodated.
GOODWYN: Now, Texas is also creating lots of low paying jobs too. One of the reasons a young Texas couple can buy a new four bedroom, three bath house in a Dallas suburb for $189,000 is because immigrants, both legal and illegal, are willing to shingle those roofs in 100 degree heat for relatively low pay. Hammond says easy access to inexpensive labor has long been a critical part of the economy's success.
HAMMOND: If you look at agriculture, construction and hospitality, there simply are not enough people born in Texas or across the country, for that matter, to fill all those positions.
GOODWYN: So with all these advantages, does Governor Rick Perry get any of the economic credit? Hammond says, you bet.
HAMMOND: Well, I think the governor's record is outstanding. I mean in his 10 years in office we've seen enormous growth. Through his leadership we were able to fill the budget gap without any new or additional taxes.
GOODWYN: Hammond and Governor Perry say that Texas is attractive to businesses because there's no corporate income tax, no state income tax, and environmental and other state regulations on Texas businesses are kept to a minimum. Critics reply that there's a big downside to these policies. Texas ranks 44th in expenditures per public school pupil and 50th in the number of adults and children who have health insurance.
P: We're tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of the workforce in minimum wage jobs. And to some extent people in Texas just do without a lot of the public services that inhabitants of other states enjoy.
GOODWYN: Wade Goodwyn, NPR News Dallas.
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