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Texas Ranked Dead Last in States to Live and Work

The reputation of The Lone Star State has been taking a tumble this month. CNBC ranks Texas the worst state to live and work, and the reason is largely the Republican policies of the last two legislative sessions.

On one hand, 200,000 college educated people are moving to Texas each year, a sign of a growing economy and lots of opportunity. On the other hand, those who move here are finding that they have to deal with a fraying social system spearheaded by extreme right ideology.

Take health care. The Texas Medical Center is renowned throughout the United States for its cutting-edge care. Houston boasts the third best children’s hospital, the best cancer hospital, and the fifteenth best hospital overall in the latest U.S. News Report. People fly from all over the world to be treated in Houston.

And yet, the state also has the highest percentage of people unable to take advantage of that care. Because Republican leadership has consistently refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Texas has more people without health insurance than any other state by both percentage of the population and raw numbers. The state also has the lowest physician-per-capita rate in the nation, with most doctors being concentrated in liberal cities. Rural red districts are often left out to dry with major shortages thanks to insufficient state funding.

That was even before the repeal of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent near-total ban on abortion in Texas. The number of doctors seeking residencies in Texas has dropped since the legislature began cracking down on abortion access. OB/GYNs don’t want to risk criminal charges for providing healthcare to pregnant patients who may require abortions to live, and many are choosing to simply not get involved in Texas medicine at all. The trend continues with the recent ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Republican social engineering is repelling doctors in a state that is already desperately in need of more.

Despite the claim that an armed society is a polite society, Texas is incredibly crime ridden. The state ranks thirteenth in violent crime. Ever since Governor Greg Abbott signed permitless carry into law, mass shootings in Texas have risen 62.5 percent. Easy access to weaponry mixes with poverty and lack of resources to create a very dangerous space.

Even the things that look like draws turn out to be worth less in reality than they might seem. Low taxes and no state income tax are consistently cited as a reason for people to move to Texas, but the practical tax rate in Texas is actually higher than California. The sales tax system in the state punishes low income residents while rewarding wealthy ones. Even though the massive $32 billion tax surplus the state has been enjoying this last year was driven almost entirely by sales tax, the legislature instead focused on passing relief for property owners. It’s just not as cheap to live here as it may seem.

This is one of the reasons the state has tumbled off the list for best places to do business, the first time since CNBC started ranking the states in 2007. Republican culture wars are eroding the strengths of Texas and increasing the state’s weaknesses, and outside observers are starting to see Texas crumble.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.

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