Supply-side economist Art Laffer, whose Laffer Associates was based in San Diego until 2007, was part of a California hate-fest yesterday (Nov. 18) in Austin at a meeting of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Laffer's company did a study comparing California and Texas. "Texas wins," boasted Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said, "I cannot say that there's anyone I respect more than Art Laffer."
Laffer said that Texas' "business-friendly" policies are behind the state's supposedly superior performance. In particular, Laffer complained that California "pays educators 20 percent more than Texas." Also, social workers in California "make over $56,000 a year. In Texas it's $37,000."
Perry bragged of Texas' "accountable public schools," but the Houston Chronicle noted that state school funding was cut back by billions of dollars two years ago and the public school finance system is embroiled in a lawsuit over adequacy and equity.
(To my knowledge, no Texas media mentioned that Perry's foot-in-mouth stumbling in the 2012 Republican presidential primary race may exemplify Texas education.)
Laffer Associates has caused a bit of a stir in Sarasota County, Florida. The firm was paid $90,000 to make recommendations on development planning. As summed up by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Laffer message was "Eliminate most regulations on development. Make it easy to grow. And eliminate fiscal neutrality, which reequires developers to cover the cost of services like schools and sewers so county taxpayers do not have to pick up the tab."
(This is one of the problems with Laffer's economics; he wants to shift spending to taxpayers but also cut taxes.)
The Sarasota plan was anti-smart growth and opposed to attempts to minimize urban sprawl and encourage alternate forms of transportation. The report got Bronx cheers from such groups as the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations and the Sierra Club.