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Happy Wednesday! Love is as old as the distant stars but as fresh as the rising sun.

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: Warm, sunny day. The groundhog may be right.

🎡 Sounds like: "My Funny Valentine."

πŸ₯° Situational awareness: Check out some Valentine's Day deals for couples and singles who are dining on a budget.

Today's newsletter is 970 robust words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Texas economy "cleared for landing" this year

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Texas economy exceeded expectations in 2023 after earlier worries of a national recession, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Why it matters: Economists had projected a soft landing for Texas in 2023, predicting it would avoid a major economic downturn if the national economy took a hit.

The big picture: The Texas labor force grew at its fastest pace in decades last year and outpaced growth nationwide, Dallas Fed senior economist Pia Orrenius said at a recent economic outlook event.

  • The state's job growth is expected to cool this year to pre-pandemic figures. "We're cleared for landing," Orrenius said.

State of play: Texas had the country's fifth highest job growth by percentage last year. Nevada was first.

  • Employment was up 3.1% in Texas, compared to 2% nationwide.
  • The state's information sector, where many tech companies had layoffs, was the only sector that recorded job losses last year.

Zoom in: Brownsville-Harlingen area earned the top spot in job growth, with 5% growth.

  • The Dallas-Fort Worth area recorded 3% growth.
  • Job growth in top-performing Austin slowed to 2.9% in 2023 because of turmoil in the tech industry.

Threat level: Texas firms surveyed by the Dallas Fed in December listed geopolitical worries and uncertainty around the upcoming U.S. elections as their primary concerns over the next six months.

  • They were also less concerned about a potential recession than in 2022.

What's next: The Fed projects Texas' job growth will cool to around 2% this year.

Reality check: These are just projections. Recession concerns could return, the costs of goods could continue increasing, and consumers could end up spending less than expected this year.

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2. πŸ₯Š Cornyn-Paxton beef gets personal

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took the gloves off. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images and Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, both Republicans, are publicly feuding over a variety of issues β€” and it's getting personal.

Why it matters: The public bickering typifies the rift inside the Texas GOP between more isolationist, MAGA-friendly Republicans aligned with Paxton and traditional conservatives like Cornyn.

What happened: In the latest back and forth, Paxton fired first on X, criticizing Cornyn's late-night vote in favor of a $95 billion foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

  • Cornyn quickly replied, telling Paxton: "Ken, your criminal defense lawyers are calling to suggest you spend less time pushing Russian propaganda and more time defending longstanding felony charges against you in Houston, as well as ongoing federal grand jury proceedings in San Antonio that will probably result in further criminal charges."
  • Paxton then called Cornyn an "America Last RINO" who has "joined hands with the Biden administration to fund and prioritize foreign wars over the national security crisis at the southern border."

The big picture: Cornyn was one of 22 Republican senators who voted for the bill, despite strong opposition from former President Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson, who indicated he won't bring the bill to the House floor β€” at least as is.

Between the lines: Last week, Senate Republicans scuttled a bipartisan border package tied to Ukraine aid after Trump announced he opposed the deal.

Flashback: Cornyn and Paxton have publicly sniped at each other for years. In 2022, before Paxton's primary against George P. Bush, Cornyn called Paxton's unresolved legal issues "a source of embarrassment."

Yes, but: Cornyn has already endorsed Trump ahead of the 2024 election.

Of note: Texas' other senator, Ted Cruz β€” who's up for reelection this year β€” voted against the aid bill.

What we're watching: The last few years of scandals have given Paxton critics a full quiver of material.

  • How far will Cornyn go?

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3. πŸ“ Mapped: North Texas Medicaid disenrollments

[ Insert title here ] (Copy)
Data: 2018-2022 American Community Survey, Texas Health & Human Services Commission; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

About 480,000 North Texans have been removed from the state's Medicaid program since federal pandemic-era coverage protections were lifted last April, new state data shows.

The big picture: Texas has removed more than 2 million people from the program β€”Β the most of any state, reports Axios Vitals' Maya Goldman.

Zoom in: More than 16.4 million people lost Medicaid coverage nationwide since eligibility checks put on hold during the pandemic resumed last spring, according to health policy research nonprofit KFF.

  • Texas has the highest rate of people removed from Medicaid since last year, with 61% of enrollees losing coverage, per KFF.
  • Over half of disenrolled Texans β€” 1.3 million β€” lost coverage because of procedural issues like failing to return paperwork, not because they were determined ineligible.

Reality check: The latest figures indicate that Texas Medicaid is now roughly back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels.

  • However, the state hasn't completed reviewing eligibility for every enrollee, so more people are likely to lose coverage.

What's next: It's not yet clear how many people losing Medicaid have found coverage elsewhere.

  • Texas was among the states that saw the biggest surge in Affordable Care Act sign-ups this year.

4. πŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

These strokes signify ebbs and flows. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏫 Fort Worth ISD plans to cut staff and reduce its budget due to declining enrollment. (WFAA)

🏈 Six Horned Frogs have been invited to the NFL Draft combine. (Star-Telegram)

πŸ›Œ Loews opened a new hotel and convention center in Arlington yesterday. (PaperCity)

5. ✍️ Tips to write a love poem

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Unsure how to show appreciation for someone special today?

  • Maybe you want to write a haiku for your hairdresser or a ballad for your barista.

How it works: SMU's visiting writer-in-residence Samyak Shertok has some tips to write a poem:

  • Find a quiet place where nothing comes between you and the page.
  • Begin writing spontaneously, freely, naturally. Let each sentence reveal the next sentence.
  • Attend totally to the person you're writing to. This connects you to the recipient in a deep and personal way β€” even before you've sent the letter.

The bottom line: Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about romantic love.

  • For example, Tasha claims her finest work ever was an ode to the toilet, which she wrote in the fifth grade.

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Nicole Ortiz.

Our picks:

πŸ’˜ Mike is amused Dallas didn't rank high among Cupid's cities.

πŸ’œ Tasha is reading about the rise of situationships.

πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘¨ Naheed is in her feels after reading this H-E-B love story in today's Axios San Antonio.

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