As Texas looks toward its bicentennial, Texas 2036 is releasing a new data-driven roadmap for the state to be the best place to live and work.
Reflecting more than six years of research and analysis, “Shaping Our Future: A Strategic Framework for Texas” was created by Texas 2036 and endorsed by the 36 members of its nonprofit, nonpartisan board as a resource to the state’s officeholders, influencers and the public.
Released in advance of the 88th Texas Legislature, the Strategic Framework provides in-depth, cross-cutting data to inform key decisions about the state’s most significant issues – for example, is the state’s educational system properly preparing the next generation of the workforce? Are Texans confident in their ability to obtain affordable health care? What’s the state of Texas’ infrastructure?
“This Strategic Framework truly is what the people of Texas and their elected leaders make of it,” said Marc Watts, president of The Friedkin Group, Inc. and incoming chair of the Texas 2036 Board. “We will use the Framework and this data to measure our progress in addressing critical issues for Texas, helping to ensure that we make these aspirational goals a reality.”
A new approach to mapping the future
Accompanying this second edition of the Strategic Framework is a new interactive dashboard, which allows Texas policymakers and the public to see the opportunities and headwinds and compare Texas’ progress against other large states.
“Our new Strategic Framework and the data it provides reinforce two critical principles – that our future resides squarely in our people and that we must organize for success,” said Margaret Spellings, president and CEO of Texas 2036 and former U.S. Secretary of Education. “The Strategic Framework shows that Texas must continue to invest in education and infrastructure as many other states have made strides to be more competitive.”
“The Strategic Framework shows that Texas must continue to invest in education and infrastructure as many other states have made strides to be more competitive.”
— Margaret Spellings, Texas 2036 president and CEO
Texas 2036 stresses reliance on relevant, trustworthy data as a key organizational value, and the report lays out over 150 metrics to chart the state’s progress toward achieving these goals. In addition, the Strategic Framework provides a look at how Texas is doing against similar states across those very metrics that we believe hold the keys to continued success in the future. These peer states include: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
“The Strategic Framework, with its goals and metrics, is a robust resource for Texas policymakers and leaders as they consider how Texas can be a place of shared opportunity through our bicentennial,” said Holly Heard, Ph.D, vice president of data and analytics at Texas 2036. “Our new platform is meant to be a ‘living’ Texas dashboard, where metrics will regularly update so everyone can keep track of our state’s progress.”
How does Texas stack up?
Among the framework’s key findings when reviewing the most recent performance indicators are:
- Education and Workforce: Too few Texas students can read at grade level. In the 2021-2022 school year, only 50% of third graders could read on grade level. Early learning difficulties hamper students' success in future education. Today, fewer than one in three high school graduates go on to obtain a post-secondary credential within six years of graduation. Meanwhile, only 56% of Texas households earn above a living wage threshold, which is $54,852 for a family of four. Texas is eighth among 12 peer states in providing living wage jobs for its residents, underperforming states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
- Health and Health Care: Rising prices have made health care unaffordable, even for those with insurance. Texas 2036 follows a metric that asks whether individuals needed to see a doctor but did not because of cost. Texas ranks last (12th out of 12) among peer states. A related metric asks about any needed care or treatment, including prescription drugs. In this measure, 59% of Texans answered that they had skipped care due to cost – including 56% of insured Texans.
- 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.
- Natural Resource: As our population increases over the next 50 years, so will our demand for water. Based on the Texas Water Development Board’s 2022 Water Plan, projected demand will increase to 19.2 million acre-feet by the 2070s. Unfortunately, the plan also projected that the amount of available water supplies – rivers, reservoirs and aquifers – will drop to 13.8 million acre-feet in the 2070s due to sedimentation of our rivers and lakes and depletion of groundwater resources.
- Justice and Safety: In 2020, Texas had a 91% clearance rate for criminal court cases and an 81% rate for civil court cases, ranking fifth and seventh, respectively, of nine reporting peer states and indicating a growing backlog in court cases. Clearance rates under 100% indicate an increasing backlog, showing that Texas courts are falling further behind in providing justice to victims, defendants, litigants and communities. Also, at 19%, Texas ranks 25th in the nation and ninth among peer states for the percentage of children who experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) across 2019-2020. ACEs are stressful events that can result in chronic toxic stress without mitigating or buffering support.
- Government Performance: Texas’ state budget revenues rank fourth most volatile among its 12 peer states. Volatile and inconsistent revenue sources can contribute to unstable budgeting environments, weakening the capacity to fund critical government services consistently.
A policy prescription all Texans can rally around
A.J. Rodriguez, Texas 2036’s executive vice president, stressed that the updated Strategic Framework will help Texas leaders measure gaps and frame key questions to help set priorities.
“Since the launch of the first Strategic Framework in 2020, Texas 2036 has convened key policy experts and visited with leaders throughout the state,” Rodriguez said. “This new edition includes a lens for the categories of equity, rural communities, children and social determinants of health to help spur discussion and debate.”
John Hryhorchuk, senior vice president of policy and advocacy at Texas 2036, described the goals in the dashboard as “common sense and bipartisan, providing a north star for our policy work.”
“With an unprecedented $27 billion general revenue surplus expected, the Legislature will have the opportunity this session to invest in generationally-impactful reforms to improve our state.”
— John Hryhorchuk, Texas 2036 senior vice president of policy and advocacy
"With an unprecedented $27 billion general revenue surplus expected, the Legislature will have the opportunity this session to invest in generationally-impactful reforms to improve our state and help us reach these shared goals," Hryhorchuk said.
A project of this scope would not have been possible without the contributions and collaborations of many people, organizations and businesses and their ongoing commitment to the state’s long-term well-being.
“For Texas to be the best place to live and work for the next generation of Texans, we must come together, think strategically and find the right solutions for our state,” said Tom Luce, founder and chairman of the board of Texas 2036. “I would like to thank our financial supporters, including the generous support from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and those who have championed our efforts from the very beginning, for making this comprehensive resource available for all of Texas.”