By A.J. Rodriguez, Texas 2036 Executive Vice President, and Holly Heard, Texas 2036 Vice President, Data and Analytics
As Texas looks toward the bicentennial of its founding as an independent republic in 1836, the state faces no shortage of challenges that must be overcome to ensure the continued prosperity of all Texans.
Here’s the good news.
Texas 2036, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization, is dedicated to crafting modern solutions grounded in research and data on issues that matter most to all Texans.
“Shaping Our Future: A Strategic Framework for Texas” is the product of years of hard work by Texas 2036. Endorsed by the 36 members of its board, this framework is offered as a free resource to Texas officeholders, influencers and the public interested in tackling the most pressing challenges facing the state before the bicentennial.
With its updated and now interactive dashboard, state policymakers and the public can measure Texas’ progress against three dozen benchmark goals linked to the long-term success of our state and people in the decades to come.
Consider the following areas where the state must confront pressing challenges:
● Education and Workforce: Too few Texas students are achieving educational success. In the 2021-2022 school year, only 50% of third graders could read on grade level. Today, fewer than one in three high school graduates go on to obtain a post-secondary credential within six years of graduation.
● Health and Health Care: Rising prices have made health care unaffordable, even for those with insurance. Three in five Texans have said that they skipped care due to cost – including 56% of insured Texans.
● Natural Resources: Projected demand for water will increase to 19.2 million acre-feet by the 2070s. Unfortunately, the amount of available water supplies will diminish to 13.8 million acre-feet in the 2070s due to sedimentation of our rivers and lakes and depletion of groundwater resources.
● Infrastructure: Texas’ population is projected to increase by nearly 25% by 2036 to more than 38 million residents, putting Texas’ broadband and energy infrastructures to the test. Approximately 3 million Texas households lack any access to high-speed internet service – indicating further work must be done to close the digital divide.
● Justice and Safety: Clearance rates in Texas criminal and civil courts are declining, indicating that our courts are falling further behind in providing justice to victims, defendants, litigants and communities.
● Government Performance: Texas has relatively high revenue volatility compared to peer states. Volatile and inconsistent revenue sources can contribute to unstable budgeting environments, weakening the capacity to fund critical government services consistently.
Texas 2036 has gladly made this significant investment with one expectation – that it will lead Texas leaders to measure gaps and frame key questions to help set priorities in the next legislative session and in the years leading up to the bicentennial.
Let’s make 2036 a celebration of Texas’ success in meeting and overcoming these challenges.
A.J. Rodriguez is the Executive Vice President of Texas 2036
Holly Heard is Vice President for Data and Analytics at Texas 2036