Legislative Agenda: 87th Legislative Session

6 Key Areas of Focus

6 key areas of focus

Education

CHALLENGE

  • Only 30 percent of Texas 4th graders meet grade-level reading standards according to the NAEP assessment
  • Wide achievement gaps exist among Texas students by race, ethnicity, and income
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive learning loss, especially among low-income students. At Dallas ISD, half of all students experienced learning loss in math and nearly one-third lost ground in reading

GOALS

  • Limit and remediate COVID-related learning loss
  • Close achievement gaps that pre-dated COVID among Texas students
  • Protect and implement evidence-based public school reforms

POLICY TOOLKIT

  • Protect funding for HB 3 and other critical, evidence-based reforms
  • Defend student assessment and district accountability and adapt them to new, COVID-related challenges
  • Expand student eligibility for expanded and innovative school year models
  • Support stronger literacy instruction in Texas schools
  • Increase access to high-quality teaching and tutoring
  • Expand access to advanced courses such as Algebra I in 8th grade and Algebra II in high school

Workforce

CHALLENGE

  • By 2036, 71 percent of jobs in Texas will require at least some postsecondary experience
  • Only 32 percent of Texas high school graduates earn a postsecondary degree or credential within 6 years
  • Only 27 percent of native Texans have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to more than 40 percent of migrants

GOALS

  • Remove barriers for Texans to attaining postsecondary degrees and credentials
  • Align Texas’s education and workforce systems to the needs of the workforce

POLICY TOOLKIT

  • Establish meta-majors and stackable micro-credentials in Texas postsecondary institutions
  • Created integrated education and workforce data systems that enable shared goal setting and stronger program evaluation
  • Strengthen accountability for postsecondary institutions and programs based on student outcomes
  • Establish funding models for postsecondary institutions that encourage better student outcomes and closer program alignment to workforce needs
  • Expand access to co-requisite and summer remediation for students who are not academically prepared for postsecondary
  • Strengthen credit transfer among institutions through common course numbering within higher education regions
  • Expand access to high-quality, online AP and IB courses, especially for low-income and rural students

Healthcare

CHALLENGE

  • Coverage – Before the pandemic, 18 percent of Texans were uninsured
  • Affordability – Even among insured Texas families, more than half skipped or delayed health care due to cost
  •  Access – 78 percent of Texas counties have been designated Health Professional Shortage Areas, and 74 counties do not have a hospital

GOALS

  • Increase the number of Texans with options for affordable health insurance
  • Address out of control health care prices
  • Improve and modernize the options for rural Texans to access primary and emergency care

POLICY TOOLKIT

Announced with our upcoming health tools

Digital Connectivity

CHALLENGE

  • More than 1 million rural Texans lack broadband infrastructure, and more than 3 million urban-area households do not subscribe to available high-speed internet That chokes access to 21st century services like remote learning and telemedicine

GOALS

  • Improve state broadband planning
  • Coordinate local, federal, and private-sector efforts to improve broadband deployment
  • Find the sweet spot for the Texas regulatory environment to promote market principles
  • Find new pathways to stable funding

POLICY TOOLKIT

  • Create/Adopt State Broadband Plan
  • Create State Broadband Office/Staff
  • Market Reforms/Incentives
  • Stable Funding Streams
  • Public-Private Partnerships

Government Performance

CHALLENGE

  • Fewer than 20 percent of agencies report significant progress in areas like data analytics, management and governance, and nearly half of the employees at the agency tasked with modernizing state technology are set to retire in the next three years

GOALS

  • Modernize government technology and data capacity
  • Ensure that the state has the right people in place to solve modern problems
  • Update state contracting

POLICY TOOLKIT

  • Create IT Revolving Fund
  • Improve Agency Data Sharing
  • Improve Health Data Infrastructure
  • Improve State Hiring/Benefits
  • Modernize State Contracting

Budget Prioritization

CHALLENGE

  • Texas currently projects a $4.6 billion budget shortfall, on top of health, education, and pension cost growth

GOALS

  • Focus legislative attention on long-term needs
  • Raise awareness of the long-term structural imbalances that can arise from a depleted tax base and unfunded liabilities

POLICY TOOLKIT

  • Prioritize Long-Term in Budget Debate
  • Urge Tax Exemption Restraint/Analysis
  • Address Pension Liability
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