Jobs in Texas

n for president largely on the claim he was a job creator, saying he had created more jobs in Texas than any other state. He seemed to think somehow that alone should have qualified him to lead the United States of America as a world power.

It is true Texas has in fact enjoyed a large expansion of jobs during the past decade, but as radio and TV commentator Paul Harvey used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.”

The increase of jobs in Texas has largely been built on the strategy of our governor having a $300 million slush fund which he could dole out to his friends in order to create new businesses. Gov. Perry did so with abandon. Studies have revealed most who enjoyed the governor’s largesse by dipping into the taxpayer-funded slush fund responded in kind by being extremely generous with campaign contributions to Gov. Perry. The program had almost no transparency and little or no accountability. Many of those who accepted grants from this slush fund after promising a set number of jobs fell far short of their promises. Many others have gone out of business entirely. Funding a slush fund with taxpayer dollars does not seem the way to lure new jobs to Texas, particularly when you are forcing businesses who pay taxes to fund the creation of competition for them.

Another sad fact about jobs in Texas is that Texas employs more minimum wage workers than any other state of the union. Correspondingly, one could reason that the multitude of low paying jobs in our state has a direct relationship to the level of skilled workers we are turning out of our education system.

Michael Dell, who created Dell Industries in Austin, once said that were he to advertise for unskilled workers paying them $15 an hour, the line of applicants would stretch around the block of his office. However, if he advertised for highly skilled technicians in the computer field, he would run far short of what he needed. Steve Jobs, the genius who helped make Apple into a corporate powerhouse, reportedly said one of the main reasons so many hundreds of jobs have been shipped to China by Apple is because Apple found it impossible to find 3,000 available, qualified engineers it needed. Mr. Jobs went on to say that had he been able to hire 3,000 qualified engineers, most of the jobs shipped to China would have remained in the United States.

Education policies endorsed by Gov. Perry and his fellow Republicans are not calculated to correct this imbalance anytime in the near future. Public education has been shorted by $4 billion even though we have $6 billion sitting in a rainy day fund. Failing to adequately fund colleges at the state level has resulted in more than doubling the tuition at many of our institutions of higher learning. Because of draconian cuts to education, our own Lamar University, Lamar State College – Port Arthur, Lamar State – Orange and Lamar Institute of Technology have been dramatically affected. As a result, these institutions will be producing fewer highly qualified technicians or engineers to fill the needs of rapidly growing, high-tech requirements in this country.

When you are tempted to vote Republican, ask yourself whether or not it is in the interest of Southeast Texas to have a $300 million taxpayer funded slush fund for the governor to use for political purposes. Or would it be better to adequately fund innovative programs here at our colleges and universities and produce the 3,000 engineers Apple could have used? Which do you think would be in the interest of job creation when this state sorely needs it?

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety.