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A&M expert: Texas could become the most populated state in the U.S. if state legislature sustains current growth

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas outpaced the nation in growth over the past decade and recently received two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives because of it and state lawmakers hope to continue to foster that growth at the state legislative session in Austin.

Texas A&M public policy expert Kirby Goidel joined First News at Four to talk about how they plan to do that.

“The first thing that Texas has to do is, is follow the Hippocratic Oath. Do no harm,” Goidel said

He explained that one of the state’s greatest strengths is the laissez-faire approach the state takes with businesses. Goidel said passing laws about how businesses operate would be detrimental to the state’s ability to appeal to businesses looking to relocate. Another issue, he explained, is separating business and politics. He said a good example is the fight for voting rights legislation in the Lone Star state. The issue has been a touchy subject for businesses and the more it enters the conversation in the state legislature, the less business-friendly Texas becomes, according to Goidel.

The growth in population is largely making Texas more diverse. Goidel said he doesn’t believe increased diversity will change the state’s political composition.

“Demography isn’t destiny,” Goidel explained, “and so we’re seeing some population shifts but there’s no reason to expect that they would necessarily change the overall political culture of the state.”

He explained that the people coming to Texas are coming here because they like the lifestyle and the way the state is governed. Goidel said those new arrivals combined with a large number of new Hispanic residents won’t necessarily push the state more liberal. He said Hispanic voters, while generally more liberal, have not historically been tied to one political ideology and tend to vote more on the issues than for one party or the other.

Goidel said if Texas wants to continue to grow over the next decade, the state needs to continue to deliver value for its residents.

“You get value because you not only get low taxes, you get good schools, you get a place where you can buy a home, and you get access to an educated workforce,” Goidel said.

He said that sustained value will make Texas a player at the national level.

“Texas has grown by the same amount as a number of surrounding states,” Goidel said, “by 2045 some people expect that Texas will be bigger than California potentially if current rates of growth continue. So that means Texas is a powerhouse in the U.S. politically, but not just in terms of Congress also in terms of the presidential level. So if Texas does ever become a really defined swing state, Texas electoral votes are critical to who could win the presidency.”

But in order to get there, Goidel said the state needs to continue making investments in growing new and emerging industries.

“Texas has been able to diversify because it also has an educated workforce,” Goidel said. “It’s also been willing to invest in infrastructure, roads, and schools. And so, unlike other states that have natural resources, Texas has been able to use the strings that it has, in order to attract tech companies here and say ‘this is a better climate for you than say California or some other state, and we think you’ll be able to make more money here with a low tax base and low tax burden on corporations.’”

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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