Gulf Coast Headliner
Q & A With
Texas Secretary of State, The Honorable
Rolando B. Pablos By John R. Snyder, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
exas “tea” ain’t the only thing brewing in the state. While oil always comes to mind when you think of Texas, the state actually has one of the largest and most dynamic and diverse economies in the world—boasting global leadership in renewable energy, medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. Ports also play a central role in the state’s economy—more than $204 billion in international trade passed through Texas seaports in 2015. The newly opened Panama Canal expansion will benefit Texas seaports, as well as the export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the U.S. So what does the future hold for the state? To find out, MARINE LOG
S6 Marine Log // July 2017
took the opportunity to chat with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who has his finger on the pulse of the state’s economy. ML: Mr. Secretary can you tell us about your background? What are your responsibilities as Secretary of State? Secretary Rolando Pablos: I’m an economic developer with extensive experience fostering cross-border trade between Texas and Mexico. Before my current position, I served as the CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, based in El Paso, which worked to foster economic growth on both sides of the border. I’m deeply passionate about strengthening the State of
Texas, having grown up here and receiving all my education here, and I’m a living example of why Texas truly is the land of opportunity. As Secretary of State, I wear a number of different hats: I’m the State’s Chief Elections Officer, the Chief International Protocol Officer, the Border Commerce Coordinator, I’m responsible for maintaining Texas’ strong commercial relationship with our largest trade partner, Mexico, and our agency maintains all the business and public filings documents in the State of Texas. ML: Most people when they think of Texas, they think of oil and gas. In reality, Texas has one of the most diverse, complex and largest economies in the world. Can you talk about some of the important industries in the state? RP: As the world’s 10th largest economy, Texas stands at center stage in the global arena. Texas is not only a global energy leader, but also a leader in technology, medicine, manufacturing and agriculture. Recently, we added more than 22,000 private sector jobs in April. Our employment growth forecast is up from previous estimates, and Texas is expected to add nearly 290,000 jobs this year if we continue on our current path. Thanks to our access to global markets, world-class workforce, predictable and reasonable regulations, no state income tax, and outstanding quality of life, more and more employers from a variety of industries are looking at opportunities for expansion here in the Lone Star State. ML: How has the downturn in oil impacted the state’s economy? RP: Frankly, Texas has been through ups and downs in the oil market and we always come out stronger. Even in a down market during fiscal year 2016, the Texas oil and natural gas industry contributed an average of $26 million a day to state and local revenue. We learned valuable lessons during the 1980s and have since diversified our energy profile significantly so that we do not feel harsh effects from fluctuations in oil prices. We still have a large economic stabilization fund—or “Rainy Day Fund” —of more than $9 billion and are well-prepared, in fiscal terms, to withstand the effects of possible future fluctuations. The rig count is up and we have added oil and gas jobs for the past six months, so I am very confident that our entire energy profile—including oil and gas operations—will remain on solid footing. ML: Drilling has picked up in West Texas, but has lagged behind in the GoM. When do you see that picking up?