The Texas economy could take a massive hit if the state enacts new voting restrictions—potentially costing the state’s economy tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs—according to a study from the Texas-based economic research firm the Perryman Group, as the Texas legislature Thursday moved one step closer to making the proposals.
The potential loss of conventions, major sporting events and tourism could cost the state $16.7 billion in annual gross product by 2025, and nearly 150,000 jobs, according to the study.
Internal factors, like decreased business activity and lower wages in the state, could lead to the loss of $14.7 billion in household purchasing power by 2025, according to the Perryman Group.
Retail trade would take the biggest hit, according to the study, losing more than 50,000 jobs from drops in tourism and economic development alone.
The Texas legislature is considering two omnibus bills to enact new voting restrictions, which include proposals making it harder to vote by mail, encating new rules on where polling places can be located in the most populous counties and outlawing drive-through voting—a popular option for the 2020 presidential election.
One of the bills—House Bill 6—passed the Texas House Committee on Elections Committee by a 5-4 party-line vote Thursday, and will now be considered by the full Texas House.
“If you strip away all of the emotion and all of the politics and say ‘this is just what happens in the economy,’ that is what we’re analyzing,” Dr. Ray Perryman said in an interview with Forbes.
Perryman said his firm’s modeling relies on 40 years worth of data and academic research, which has consistently shown voting laws that are restrictive or have “the appearance of discrimination” lead to negative economic impacts. The negative impacts are already being seen in Georgia, Perryman said. The long list of companies condemning the state’s new law will likely mean fewer conventions in Georgia, which mean fewer visitors spending money in the state, while some socially conscious travelers also choose to stay away. The resulting domino effect and supply chain reaction will likely mean the economy takes a major hit, Perryman said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) doesn’t seem too fazed when it comes to businesses being upset over new voting laws. Abbott responded to Major League Baseball’s decision to pull its All-Star Game from Georgia by refusing to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, saying the state would not “seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special events.”
Texans have plenty to say about the proposed restrictions, as the Texas House Committee on Elections found out. Last week, the committee held a 22-hour hearing on House Bill 6, featuring hundreds of speakers.
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