By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
"Thank goodness we're in Texas," Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday before discussing the state's economy at the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce's monthly government affairs luncheon.
Combs said the state's economy has already hit bottom and is now moving in the right direction, with Central Texas playing a role as a "huge driver" of the state's economy.
"We're still worse than we were a year ago, but we're coming back up and that's what's important - the direction," she said, pointing to car sales in Texas being up 12 percent - the first time they have been up in two years.
Combs attributed the state's "robust" economy to the economic downfall in the mid-1980s, when state officials created a rainy day fund and decided to diversify Texas' economy.
"We have a rainy day fund, which will have in it by next summer $8.2 billion because we got a serious case of the smarts in the mid-'80s," she said. "We are now the 12th-largest economy in the world and we are more diverse than our two neighbors, Mexico and Canada."
Combs compared Texas' unemployment and housing market to several other state economies in the nation. She said the state's unemployment rate is 8.2 percent while the nation's is 9.7 percent, with Killeen at 7.5 percent and Bell County at 7.1 percent.
"When we went broke in the mid-'80s, we also had a housing bubble in the mid- to late '80s and another one in 2002, so all of those folks with the subprime problems, they're not here," she said.
With only 1 in 785 homeowners in the state receiving a foreclosure, Combs said Texas is doing better than several other states including Nevada, which has a foreclosure rate of 1 in 97, Arizona at 1 in 139 and California at 1 in 187.
John Crutchfield, CEO and GKCC president, said, "We knew even before the recession that Texas would be one of the last states to see the effects of the recession, and we'll be the first to see the effects start to go away."