Texa 2036 is a new (to me, anyway) organization with a mission “to enable Texans to make policy decisions through accessible data, long-term planning and statewide engagement”. Mostly, they seem like good-government-through-good-data types who favor things like public education and health care. Fine things indeed. Towards their goal, they have a new poll:
As the work of the new legislative session begins, far more Texans than a year ago are concerned about the future, and public confidence in state government has declined considerably.
Those are key findings from a new poll we conducted in January 2021. The poll also shows that nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, far fewer Texans rate the state’s ability to solve problems as “good” or “excellent,” and 4-in-5 say the legislature needs to take action this year to address the challenges Texas now faces.
- Prior to the pandemic, 50% of Texas voters rated the Texas state government’s ability to solve problems and serve the needs of its residents as “good” or “excellent,” compared to 36% after the pandemic.
- “Politics, government and civility” was cited as the number one issue Texas needs to address to be successful 15 years from now, followed by “economy, jobs and trade” and “education.” “Immigration and the border,” which topped the list a year ago, is now tied for fourth place with various wedge and social issues.
- 8-out-of-10 Texas voters think the Texas State Legislature should act during the current legislative session to address any challenges or issues highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s the press release with more data:
The poll of registered Texas voters revealed significant shifts from a poll that the organization conducted of registered voters for Texas 2036 in January of last year:
• The percentage of voters who are extremely or very concerned about the future of Texas increased from 31% in January 2020 to 47% in January 2021. Overall, 87% are concerned about the future of Texas.
• Prior to the pandemic, 50% of Texas voters rated the Texas state government’s ability to solve problems and serve the needs of its residents as “good” or “excellent,” compared to 36% after the pandemic. The economy was cited as the primary reason voters rated state government positively.
• “Politics, government and civility” was cited as the number one issue Texas needs to address to be successful 15 years from now, followed by “economy, jobs and trade” and “education.” “Immigration and the border,” which topped the list a year ago, is now tied for fourth place with various wedge and social issues.
• In 2020, 34 percent of Texans felt they were better off than they had been the year before, compared to 14 percent who felt they were worse off. In 2021, those levels are nearly even, with 22 percent believing they are better off and 21 percent believing they are worse off.
The poll was conducted by Baselice & Associates, Inc. a prestigious Texas polling firm. It surveyed 1,021 Texas voters via cell phones, land lines and the Internet. The margin of error for the results is +/- 3.1 percent at the .95 confidence level.
It revealed widespread support for legislation and policy changes that will help strengthen the Texas economy and set a groundwork for a thriving future:
• 64% of voters support Texas making Medicaid or free government health insurance available to adults with no children who earn $17,609, which is equivalent to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, the eligibility threshold set by the federal government for Texas to receive billions of dollars in enhanced federal funding (today, able-bodied childless adults are ineligible for Medicaid in Texas.)
• 86 percent support changes that ensure more of the Medicaid tax dollars that Texas sends to the federal government are actually spent in Texas.
• More than two-thirds of Texans believe the state should use all available tools, including standardized tests, to address learning loss caused by the pandemic.
• 79 percent support better teacher training to improve fourth grade reading levels, and 84 percent support high-quality tutoring to close COVID learning gaps.
• 91 percent believe Texas students need access to the most up-to-date information on jobs and wages so students can make informed decisions about their higher education and colleges can help students get good jobs.
• 84 percent agree that because a high school diploma usually isn’t enough to get a good, well-paying job, the state needs to better orient education programs, degree plans and certifications toward jobs of the future.
• 91 percent support modernizing and increasing health care options in rural areas where there is a shortage of doctors, hospitals and clinics.
• 83 percent support market reforms and financial incentives to bring broadband to low-income and rural areas.
• And 86 percent say state and local governments should use better technology to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars and better serve Texans.
Some of this is encouraging, like the support for Medicaid, which as you know is something I think should be a cornerstone of the next statewide Democratic campaign. Some of it is anodyne to the point of meaninglessness. I mean, literally no one supports “wasting” money. It’s just that opinions differ as to what constitutes “waste”. Some of it feels inadequate – if we believe that a high school diploma is largely insufficient for getting a good job, then maybe we could do something about increasing access to college as well? There’s something here for everyone, it’s just not clear how much of it there is.
The bigger point here is that if one genuinely supports these things, then one has an obligation to support politicians who will pass laws to make them happen, and fund them adequately. The fact that we’re still talking about expanding Medicaid more than a decade after the passage of Obamacare tells you all you need to know about who does and doesn’t support that part of their plank. “Better teacher training” and “high-quality tutoring” sound expensive – who’s going to support spending the money on those things? You know where I’m going with this. Texas 2036 has some Very Serious People on its board, and likely the ability to put some money behind serious candidates who agree with their vision, however bland it is. What action do they plan to take in support of that vision? That’s the question to ask.