The current legislative session has been described as possibly the “worst in recent memory” for Latino Texans. What are likely coalitions that might be able to mitigate the budget cut proposals under consideration?
To figure this out, I visualized Texas county data matching Latino population density and per capita budget cuts. Demographic data on total population and Hispanic density is based on 2010 Census data made available at the Texas Tribune data portal. Projected budgets cuts are based on Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) estimates; the $10 billion cut scenario was utilized for the Medicaid visualization. My complete source file can be found here.
Let's start with public education. The blue line represents the state average per capita K12 cut: $127. The 2010 Census data indicated that Texas is 38% Hispanic, so counties above that are above average in terms of Latino density. Finally, the larger the size of the bubble, the larger the plotted county's total population. Examining the chart yields that a likely best strategy for pro-education advocates is to build a coalition of Harris and Dallas-area county legislators along with targeted low population counties with high per capita cuts that are represented by conservative legislators.
On the Medicaid front, there is a stronger correlation between Latino density and size of per capita cuts. The average state cut is $406 under the $10 billion cut scenario. This is represented by the red line. Two Rio Grande Valley counties – Hidalgo and Cameron – are particularly hard hit under any of the CPPP scenarios. Legislators from the RGV might be able to form a pro-Medicaid coalition with the eclectic mix of small- to mid-size counties that also will be experiencing very high per capita cuts.
Overall, the current budget promises to wreak havoc on all of Texas, as well as disproportionately burden many Latino communities across the state. It is the culmination of years of reckless, ideologically-driven budgeting. Hopefully, the extreme nature of proposed cuts will create a space for new, surprising coalitions to propose a more balanced approached to repairing the budget mess. Such an approach would include use of the Rainy Day Fund and practical, fair revenue increases.