Legislative Study Group: Texas At Risk In Ability to Compete and Succeed

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Today, the Legislative Study Group released Texas on the Brink, a report on the state of our state.

The news isn't good: Texas is facing a crisis in health and human services, education, and clean air and water. If our leaders continue to fail to address these pressing concerns, the prosperous future of our state is at risk.

Unfortunately, Republican leaders from Rick Perry on down refuse to address the reality faced by most Texans, and too few Democrats seem willing to draw a line in the sand and stand firmly in favor of restoring cuts to education and expanding access to health care.

As the LSG report states:

In Texas today, the American dream is distant. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the nation. Texas is dead last in percentage of high school graduates. Our state generates more hazardous waste and carbon dioxide emissions than any other state in our nation. If we do not change course, for the first time in our history, the Texas generation of tomorrow will be less prosperous than the generation of today.

Read more below the jump, and download the full report here.The report gives helpful figures comparing Texas to other states, with extensive citations to back it all up.

Overall, our Republican legislature fails on every front to provide a quality of life for all Texans, choosing instead to spend our money on corporate tax credits and slash access to healthcare and plunder funds from public education.

Texas Republicans pride themselves on fostering a “low tax, low service” state. Their failed policies are instead turning Texas into a “low civilization” state, as more and more residents cannot afford food, complete their high school education, or access basic healthcare.

Below is an excerpt of some of the most alarming statistics in the report. Each state plus DC was ranked, with 1st designating the highest and 51st designating the lowest for each category.

Education: Texas has the second-highest number of public school students, and some of the lowest state funding and student achievement. We are not providing our kids with the education they need to succeed in a competitive 21st century globalized workforce.

Elementary and Secondary Public School Enrollment: 2nd

Percentage of Population Graduated from High School: 50th

Current Expenditures for Public K-12 Schools from State Governments: 43rd

Average Combined SAT Scores: 47th

Health Care: Texas leads the nation in our rate of uninsured — at 28.8%, it's the highest recorded. We have a crisis in healthcare spending, with Governor Perry's pig-headed refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion only making the problem worse.

Percent of Population Uninsured: 1st

Percent of Non-Elderly Uninsured: 1st

Percent of Low-Income Population Covered by Medicaid: 48th

Health Care Expenditures per Capita: 46th

Per Capita State Spending on Mental Health: 50th

Women's Health: It's not just about abortion: Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates and cervical cancer rates, while Texas women have some of the lowest rates of health insurance and access to prenatal care. “Pro-life?” Ha!

Percent of Non-Elderly Women With Health Insurance: 51st

Percent of Pregnant Women Receiving Prenatal Care in First Trimester: 50th

Teen Birth Rate: 4th

Cervical Cancer Rate: 8th

Economic Quality of Life: There's a deep divide between the wealthy and everyone else, as more and more working Texans are increasingly unable to afford basic necessities and cannot save for the future.

Income Inequality Between Rich and Poor: 43rd

Income Inequality Between the Rich and Middle Class: 43rd

Personal Bankruptcy Filings Rate, Per Capita: 46th

Percent Living Below Federal Poverty Level: 8th

Percent of Population with Food Insecurity: 3rd

Percent of Adults Who Visit The Dentist: 46th

Foreclosure Rates: 44th

Average Credit Card Debt: 46th

Retirement Plan Participation: 46th

Affordability of Homes: 6th

Environmental Quality: So much for “don't mess with Texas” — our environmental record is shameful for a state whose leaders fancy themselves stewards of God's creation. Our air and water are simply not safe for our children.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions: 1st

Hazardous Waste Generated: 1st

Recognized Cancer-Causing Carcinogens Released into Air: 4th

Recognized Cancer-Causing Carcinogens Released into Water: 4th

All in all, it's a searing statistical indictment that demonstrates how far Rick Perry and his Republican cronies have let Texas fall. Our leaders should be ashamed of themselves and their refusal to get serious about addressing these pressing needs.

Unfortunately the sad truth is that until Democrats reclaim statewide leadership positions and vastly increase our margins in the Legislature, these failures are likely to continue. In the meantime, we need to work like hell to elect those who will care for all Texans, not just the advantaged few.

The Legislative Study Group is chaired by Representative Garnet Coleman. The first edition of Texas on the Brink was released in 2003 under the leadership of State Senator Eliot Shapleigh.

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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