ONE PROVOCATIVE line in Gov. Corbett's budget address last week was "Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural-gas boom."
It was a reference to Corbett's view that taxing the extraction of natural gas from Marcellus Shale inhibits the industry here, whereas not taxing it will, I guess, make us like Texas.
I can't resist.
Like Texas? Home of the armadillo, wild buffalo grass and the Dallas Cowboys? Home to more species of bats than anywhere else in the U.S.A.?
Is Texas to Corbett's liking? A place suited to his politics?
Maybe since Corbett's a law-and-order former prosecutor, it's because Texas executes more people than any state in the nation?
(The running tally is 446 since the death penalty was re-legalized in 1976; no state is anywhere near that; Pennsylvania's executed three since then.)
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of capital punishment?
Maybe it's because Corbett is looking for concessions from public employees. They must have felt a chill when Corbett said Texas.
For even though Corbett hasn't indicated an interest in union-busting a la fellow GOP Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Texas is one of the states where public employees don't have bargaining rights.
And, shocker, Texas public workers rank last nationally in benefits and haven't gotten a cost-of-living raise in a decade.
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of public workers?
Educators, as if they weren't handed enough to fret about with Corbett's proposals to slash both basic- and higher-ed funding, no doubt choked on their chalk when they heard the word "Texas."
Some think the Lone Star State has one star because that's about as high as its kids can count.
A 2010 CNBC special report ranking states on education puts Texas 30th and Pennsylvania 4th.
In this year's U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation's top-50 universities, Pennsylvania has four: Penn, Carnegie Mellon, Lehigh and Penn State. Texas? Two: Rice and Texas.
In its ranking of the top-50 colleges, Pennsylvania has eight: Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Bucknell, Lafayette, Franklin & Marshall, Dickinson and Gettysburg. Texas has zero.
Oh, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proposing education cuts of more than $9 billion.
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of education?
Still, there are things appealing about Texas.
Its Legislature meets only every other year, is nowhere near as large as ours - despite the fact that Texas has twice our population - and its members are paid less than 10 percent of what ours are paid.
(Base pay in Pa.: $79,646; base pay in Texas: $7,200.)
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of state legislatures!
How about taxes in Texas?
According to the Washington-based Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranks 10th nationally in per-capita state and local tax burden.
Texas? Could you live with 45th?
The foundation says that in 2009, the per-capita tax bite in Pennsylvania was $4,190, whereas in Texas it was $3,197. Per-capita income in both states is about the same.
Speaking of income, Texas doesn't tax income, but it does (ironically) tax natural gas - $503 million worth this year.
We pay $10.7 billion a year in personal income tax. Texans pay zippo.
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of taxes!
And get this. That CNBC special report on states last year? It ranked states on factors such as the cost of doing business, quality of life, state economy, technology, workforce, business friendliness and transportation. Pennsylvania ranked 20th overall. I don't have to tell you who ranked first.
Yep, because it finished tops for its economy and transportation and near the top for technology and innovation, Texas was dubbed the No. 1 state.
Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of Texas!
Or maybe work something out. They keep the Cowboys. We keep our schools. And we trade legislatures. Hook 'em, Horns!