Perry’s campaign called the mortgage regulations appropriate. “Governor Perry is not against all regulations,” Miner said. “He is against regulations that kill jobs and harm the economy.”
James C. Oberwetter, president of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, says that, overall, the state’s economy has benefited from a light hand of government — even if that has allowed social problems to fester.
“There are some conservative principles at work, which, true enough, cause problems for funding some of our social programs,” he said. “Yet, on the other hand, it leads us to great job creation.”
Many educators and others say that trade-off is evident in many social indicators. More than a quarter of the state’s population lacks health-care coverage. Texas is last in the country when it comes to the number of adults with high school diplomas. It is 44th in the country in school spending per pupil, and its rate of income inequality is the ninth- highest in the country.
The Census Bureau says 9.5 percent of the Texas workforce is paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, tying it with Mississippi for the largest share of minimum-wage workers in the country. Many restaurant workers are among those who earn less than the minimum wage.
“In Texas, as anywhere else in the nation and in all capitalist societies, you earn what you learn,” Fisher, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, wrote in a June op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning News, calling for educational improvements. “Income is directly correlated to educational attainment.”
In Longview, in the oil- and gas-producing heart of East Texas, the economy is growing swiftly, and employers are struggling to find qualified workers.
“We can’t get enough production welders,” said Aaron Lowe, a welding engineer at Trinity Rail, a railroad car manufacturer that has been expanding briskly in recent months after shrinking during the downturn.
The same is true at other employers. Eastman Chemical, which manufactures coatings, adhesives and other products, has seen a huge boom in sales with the drop in natural-gas prices. The two local medical centers also are hiring.
Still, education officials worry about the future of a city where only half of the high school graduates go on to higher education. “Every independent school district in Texas is underfunded,” said James Wilcox, superintendent of schools in Longview.
And that, he said, will hurt in the short run. Wilcox said he recently had to cut 20 of the school system’s 1,100 jobs to accommodate state budget cuts.
He also said it will hurt in the long run by leaving many of his students unprepared for the evolving job market.
“If kids go right to work from high school, they are only going to get pretty much minimum-wage jobs,” Wilcox said. “They have to be able to get some training that would make it so they don’t have to start at the bottom.”