A group of progressive lawmakers releases the report every other year, during the legislative session.
It’s called “Texas On The Brink” and it’s a statistical snapshot of the economics and quality of life in Texas, with a focus on the average family.
Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman is a state representative and the chairman of the group.
“One that’s a good statistic is our housing costs are much lower than other states, and so that’s a good thing. However, when we look at other areas like public education we’re not doing as well.”
Among the 50 states, Texas ranks last in the percent of the population that has graduated high school.
It has the highest proportion of people without health insurance, and releases the most carbon dioxide and hazardous waste of any state.
“So in the future if we have these same numbers, we won’t be able to compete with other states.”
Coleman says the report provides a fact-based counterbalance to Governor Rick Perry’s rhetoric.
He says the governor paints a rosy picture of a business-friendly, low-tax state, but does not focus on the consequences of those policies.
Coleman claims inadequate state spending on education and health care is creating a new underclass of unprepared workers.
“Taking the long view is extremely important in government, and most people usually don’t. We can’t move forward and attract business with uneducated people.”
Governor Perry’s office responded with a statement that noted the brisk pace of job creation in Texas and the fact that 1,000 people a day move here.
Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed attributed that to policies that have cleaned up the air, reformed the legal system, and kept tax rates low.
He says the report cherry picks statistics to make Texas seem worse off than it is, and therefore justify more taxes and spending.
“It is much more appropriate to compare Texas to, let’s say, California than to compare Texas to Delaware or Vermont. And that is exactly what the ‘Texas on the Brink’ people are doing when they simply show national statewide rankings.”
DeVore says parts of the report are skewed because it doesn’t take into account the low cost of living in Texas.
It also compares students through SAT scores, which DeVore points out is a voluntary test. Not all graduating seniors take it.
DeVore says a better measure would be the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.
“And if you look at NAEP scores in the fourth and eighth grade, Texans perform better than their large-state competitors across the board … and so that’s what you really have to do, you have to compare like to like.”
Below is the “Texas on the Brink” report: