In lots of ways, Texas has been a huge success story under the watch of Gov. Rick Perry (R). Perry has gotten some sharp elbows for his job-poaching tours of other states, but on Monday Toyota announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters to Plano, outside Dallas, from the Los Angeles suburbs. It isn't the first company to leave California, or another state, for Texas. The Lone Star State added 1.3 million residents from 2010 to 2013, according to U.S. Census data. That's more than any other state.
Perry, the state's Republican-dominated legislature, and many analysts attribute this growth and low unemployment rate to the combination of low taxes, lax regulation, few public services, and tracking-related gas boom. What's indisputable is that most of the people are headed to Texas' already sizable cities: Houston (pop. 2.2 million) added 34,625 people from July 2011 to July 2012, while Austin (pop. 843,000) expanded by 25,395 residents. Austin, which still thinks of itself as a funky college town, is now the 11th largest city in the U.S., adding about 100 new people each day. Here's what Texas' growth looks like in graph form, via The Wall Street Journal:
But the Texas system, like every other governing philosophy in the world, has weak points, and the two big ones in the Lone Star State are water and transportation infrastructure. Texas is in a multi-year drought, and the population growth is putting a further strain on water resources. And then there's the aging and inadequate roads and public transportation: Texans, like many Americans, really like their cars and don't particularly like traffic. Austin has the fourth worst traffic in the U.S.
There are other growing pains, too. "We are already straining our systems for water, power, schools, and roads," Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter, a Perry appointee, tells The Wall Street Journal. "And they'll continue to be stressed unless we invest more heavily."
Most of the problems are fixable with money, but Texans — most lawmakers and residents — don't want to raise the money to fix them. There's no state income tax in Texas, so all those poached jobs add money to the state coffers only indirectly, through things like sales and property taxes and service fees. Instead of raising taxes to build new roads, Texas lawmakers prefer to let private companies build an incompatible array of toll highways.
The problems aren't going away. By 2040, demographers predict that Texas will have 40 million residents, from more than 26 million today. If the water becomes scarce and roads semi-permanent parking lots, that prediction probably won't come to fruition. Peter Weber
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) maintained Friday that he'll support the Republican presidential nominee, even if that somebody happens to be Donald Trump, The Palm Beach Post reports.
In fact, Rubio might be more impressed with the billionaire business mogul than usual, saying his "performance has improved significantly" recently.
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was none too thrilled Saturday with the protesters who blocked his way into California's Republican convention the day before:
The "protesters" in California were thugs and criminals. Many are professionals. They should be dealt with strongly by law enforcement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2016
Leave it to Trump to make an off-color joke about the incident once he made it inside the hotel Friday.
Jimmy Fallon has been singing bits and pieces of Styx's "Too Much Time on My Hands" on The Tonight Show for days. On Friday, he and actor Paul Rudd took the obsession to its natural conclusion, creating a shot-by-shot remake of the '80s music video. The end result is sufficiently goofy. Take a look below. Julie Kliegman
Hundreds of activists stormed Iraq's parliament building Saturday in support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had accused Iraqi politicians of corruption, CBS News reports.
The demonstrators climbed over blast walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the country's ministries and foreign embassies, after parliament couldn't reach quorum to hold a session. The protesters broke furniture, chanted, and waved Iraqi flags.
San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr released nine pages of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers Friday and ordered all officers to undergo anti-bias training, The New York Times reports.
"We have nothing to hide," Suhr said of his 2,000-member force. "These are the actions of a few."
The messages, which disparaged blacks, Latinos, South Asians, and LGBT people, were found as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.
The head of an evangelical legal organization has pledged to carry a gun into Target's bathrooms to defend against transgender women. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver is calling for a boycott of the retail chain after it announced that it will allow patrons to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, The Huffington Post reports. Staver tweeted the following:
— Anita Staver (@AnitaStaver) April 22, 2016
Staver later claimed she always brings guns into public restrooms.