February 01, 2003
Mississippi's revenge

It appears that Governor Goodhair misspoke when he said recently that he didn't want Texas to become "like Mississippi". According to this article in the Chron, Mississippi does better than Texas in several significant categories:

In what radio commentator Jim Hightower calls "an age-old struggle for last," Texas might be starting to win.

"It's actually a very funny set of statistics," said Eva De Luna Castro, budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin think tank that advocates for the needy.

The data compare Texas and Mississippi on state and local spending combined for the year 2000. Mississippi spent $4,897 per person. Texas spent $4,592.

That might sound like something to brag about if it weren't for one little matter. The data also show the overall tax bill for Mississippians totaled $2,214 per person per year. Texans paid more -- $2,504.

One culprit seems to be the share paid in local property taxes. Texans get hit with a $950 bill. Mississippians pay only $514.

Oh, the indignity. We pay more to get less. And it just gets worse:

Consider a few more categories. One big surprise? Highways. Perhaps it might bolster Perry's push for more highway spending that Mississippi spent $433 per person on highways in 2000, while Texas spent only $345.

Parks and natural resources? Mississippi's get $137 per person. Texas' get $107.

And, when it comes to children, Mississippi is no slacker, either. Ninety percent of children there are covered by either public or private health insurance versus only 79 percent in Texas.

Mississippi spends $3,434 per pupil, versus $3,186 in Texas, where local property taxes foot most of the bill.

Both states rank fairly low in the percentage of their populations over 25 holding a high school diploma, but Mississippi ranks 44th with 80.3 percent while Texas comes in 46th with 79.2 percent.

No doubt that Mississippi is a poor state and Texas is a wealthier one, however, with 19.3 percent living in poverty versus 14.9 percent in Texas.

Average personal income in Texas for 2001 is $28,581 versus $21,750 in Mississippi.

Mississippi spends like a poor state because they are a poor state. Texas spends like a poor state because we're cheap.

How does Mississippi do it? Well, it must be noted that they do have a little help:

In 2000, they attracted $1,240 per person from the federal government while Texas got only $890.

If only we had a highly-placed elected federal politician to help us out...

OK, cheap shot, and a poor comparison besides: Texas gets a ton of swag from the Feds, we just have a lot more population to spread it over. But still.

Way to go, Guv. Maybe aspiring to be more like Mississippi isn't so bad after all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 01, 2003 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

"If only we had a highly-placed elected federal politician to help us out..."


Posted by: Chris Quinones on February 3, 2003 10:00 AM

Like I said, it was a cheap shot. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 3, 2003 3:57 PM