It’s been called the "Texas miracle": hundreds of thousands of jobs added, millions of people and thousands of companies moving here from other states.
But that sense of pride inside Texas isn’t shared outside the state. Critics say the majority of jobs created don’t pay well and that the state’s low-tax, low-service model has led to crumbling schools, inadequate roads and a water crisis.
Enter Texas Monthly Senior Editor Erica Grieder, whose new book, Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas, was released Tuesday.
The book is a defense of Grieder’s home state.
"Well, sure, I think I'm a defender of Texas," Grieder said. "I think most Texans would defend Texas, as the need arises."
She said the criticism of the Texas model hit a fever pitch during Gov. Rick Perry's ill-fated presidential bid. The governor used the state's strong economy as the cornerstone of his argument for why he should be president.
"There was just this avalanche of articles talking about how it wasn't a real story, how it couldn't possibly be this good in the state, how there weren't real jobs that we had," Grieder said. "The idea that we could just dismiss it out of hand because it's happening in Texas, I thought, needed to be countered."
Grieder knows there are problems in Texas — problems that the state is finally getting around to addressing, like roads and water infrastructure. And those problems have gotten worse because of the state's ability to attract new businesses and people.
"It's actually kind of delightful, if you appreciate irony," Grieder said. "The model's been this low-tax, low-services approach for a long time. And because it's worked so well, now we have a population that's going to need a little more."
Bush Center opening
Agenda Texas hits the road the rest of this week to cover the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University. Tune in for our coverage from the state’s third presidential library.