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    Three-quarters of Texans think ‘extreme conservative agenda’ has captured state, poll finds

    By Saul Elbein,


    Conservative Republicans’ attacks on gun control, abortion and climate-friendly investing practices are deeply unpopular — and costing Texas billions of dollars, according to a new poll.

    The findings by progressive advocacy group Unlocking America’s Future (UAF) included a survey that found that nearly three-quarters of Texans said they believe their state has lost focus on pressing problems in favor of “an extreme conservative agenda.”

    The survey shows that “Texans do not support leaders who ignore real issues to push an extreme agenda, and we’re seeing that trend nationally,” Kyle Herrig, a spokesperson for UAF, told The Hill.

    An accompanying report argues that a conservative crackdown on policies such as climate-friendly investing is throwing the brakes on the state’s booming economy.

    “Every time lawmakers pass an extreme right-wing law, they send the message to businesses and investors that Texas is closed for business. Take your millions elsewhere,” its authors wrote.

    “Whatever your outlook on what once led to the ‘Texas Miracle’ – today, it is under threat.”

    The idea of the Texas Miracle was born after the 2008 recession, when the financial crisis that left mass layoffs and deserted housing tracts across the Sun Belt broke against the energy boom and “the de facto industrial policy” of then-Gov. Rick Perry (R), as one journalist told The Texas Tribune.

    That policy, for example, laid the groundwork for Texas’s nation-leading renewables industry, which was established under Republican rule.

    Over the past three years, however, Republican leaders including Perry’s successor, Gov. Greg Abbott, or Attorney General Ken Paxton, have told a different story of Texas’s economic success: that it relies on the unchecked ability of the fossil fuel and firearms industries to access capital.

    “As Attorney General, my job is to uphold state law and ensure that Texas remains a friendly state for companies to do business—including those that produce the energy we depend on and the firearms that secure our safety and freedom,” Paxton wrote last year .

    Since 2021, Abbott, Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) have gone to war against financial firms they accuse of boycotting fossil fuels or firearms.

    As part of this strategy, the state has barred state and local governments from doing business with 14 major banks that have policies around ultimately divesting from coal, oil or gas — the burning of which is the principal contributor to heating the planet.

    These include UBS Group, Danske Bank and Societe Generale — companies that have been selling off their fossil fuel assets over the past several years, although they still hold billions.

    The UAF poll suggests these findings are broadly unpopular; more than three-quarters of respondents said the Texas government shouldn’t be doing business with companies with bad environmental or workplace safety measures.

    The report by the progressive group also echoed findings by the Texas Association of Business that state policies targeting banks with a policy of avoiding investment in guns or oil had cost local governments $700 million per year and more than 3,000 statewide jobs.

    Those fees could cost the state another $22 billion by midcentury , the Houston Chronicle reported.

    Meanwhile, a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that lack of abortion access had driven more than 93,000 women out of the state labor force — costing $23 billion per year.

    Finally, there is the heavy financial cost to the state of gun violence — about $53 billion per year, according to advocacy group EveryStat.

    Of the voters surveyed by UAF, wide majorities disapprove of GOP-proposed abortion bans, book bans and rollbacks of permits for handguns.

    Over his career, Abbott has taken in nearly $53 million from the energy industry, followed by $13 million for Patrick and $5 million for Paxton — making energy the largest donor for all three, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

    About 77 percent of Texans surveyed — and 62 percent of Republicans — said Republicans in the state Legislature “were working for their wealthy campaign donors.”

    And 66 percent of all voters — and 45 percent of Republicans — said they were “too friendly to the fossil fuel industry.”

    The new survey of 1,114 likely voters, conducted April 7-12, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

    The Hill has reached out to Abbott, Paxton and Patrick for comment on the group’s findings.

    Updated at 10:42 a.m. EDT

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