From Steve Blow’s column in today’s Dallas Morning News:
Texans pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Our average rate is higher than those in 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to federal statistics. And what’s worse, Texas’ residential rates are about 50 percent higher than our neighboring states’.
Lots of Texans, especially those who were against deregulation from the beginning, are furious about it. I certainly can’t say it makes me happy to get electric bills over $700, which has happened every month this summer – and that was with us keeping the thermostat set at 80. And yes, I get a little annoyed when I hear from friends in other states that they only pay 9 cents per kWh, when I’m paying 14 cents to Gexa (and feeling lucky, since my neighbors who still use TXU are paying 15).
It’s also well known that our property tax rates are above average, and that we pay more for homeowners’ insurance than those in most other states. It’s enough to give you a persecution complex — until you look at the bigger picture.
Those who complain most about the high prices of some things here seem to forget the low prices of others. We may have high property taxes, but we don’t have any state income taxes – a tradeoff I’m more than willing to make. I’d rather be punished for buying a more expensive house than be punished for working hard to make more money.
In fact, according to the Tax Foundation (http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/60.htm…), we have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in the country. We’re ranked at number 44; only six states are lower.
And speaking of expensive houses, we have some of the best housing deals in the nation. The same home for which you pay $200,000 here would cost you over $1,000,000 in California or the northeast.
When it comes to overall cost of living, we do pretty well. According to the cost of living calculator at http://swz.salary.com/CostOfLivingWizard/layoutscr…, someone who makes $100,000 in Dallas would have to make $131,500 to have the same standard of living in Los Angeles, $189,000 in New York, $106,300 in Chicago, and $123,900 in Seattle. Oh, there are cheaper places to live: Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas … but not many that I’d want to move to in order to save a few bucks.
So, yeah, let’s put the pressure on TXU to get these electric bills down out of the stratosphere, and let’s vote in someone who’ll put a cap on the property tax hikes, and let’s petition our insurance companies to make our rates more reasonable (or at least stop reducing coverage as they raise them). But while we’re at it, let’s not overlook the fact that we’re pretty lucky, compared to a lot of other people in a lot of other places, even within the U.S. If you really want an idea of how blessed we are, look up some cost/standard of living comparisons with people in Europe, Japan and other parts of the world.