2023 Legislative Agenda: Policy for all Texans

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter about our top policy priorities for the upcoming Texas Legislative Session. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.

2023 Legislative Agenda & Top Priorities 📋

Texas 2036 is hard at work drilling down into the policy issues that matter most to Texans. Here’s a look at our priorities for the upcoming 88th Legislative Session.

Setting the scene: During our first Legislative Session in 2021, our policy team tracked 840 bills, supported legislators in pre-filing 35 bills and testified 55 times.

  • As a result, 45 bills that move Texas forward across our policy areas became law—three of which passed during the subsequent three special sessions. Most of these bills that we supported and became law received overwhelming bipartisan backing with 92% support on average.

On the horizon: From interim committee meetings to Legislative Appropriations Requests hearings, we’ve been discussing our data with policymakers and stakeholders all year in preparation for the Legislature to convene in January.

  • Results from our 5th Texas Voter Poll also offered a roadmap for future state action on fundamental issues from voters across party lines.

Center of attention: For the 88th Legislative Session, our focus is on four priority areas: education and workforce, infrastructure, health care, and government performance. Let’s dive in …

Education Outcomes ✏️

Higher-quality curriculum: Access to a stronger curriculum can improve both student learning and teacher quality of life by reducing after-hours lesson planning.

  • In a TNTP national study of 1,000 lessons observed, students met the demands of their assignments 71% of the time but demonstrated mastery of grade-level standards on those assignments only 17% of the time.

Accountability and assessment: For students to have equitable access to a high-quality education, the state needs to continue to measure student achievement.

  • 52% of students are on grade level in reading on the STAAR exam, with 30% of 4th graders proficient on the Nation’s Report Card.

Texas Voter Poll take: 82% of Texas voters supported increasing access to high-quality tutoring in reading and math for Texas public school students.

👉 Dive Deeper: Find out why “Accountability in Texas education should not be a participation trophy” in our latest op-ed by CEO and President Margaret Spellings.

Workforce Alignment 🧑‍🏭

Community college finance: A new funding formula recommended by the Texas Commission on Community College Finance can help students improve wage outcomes and Texas employers hire the skilled labor they need to grow our state’s economy.

  • According to Texas 2036’s analysis of state data, 0.2% of state community college funding is aligned to employers’ workforce needs today.

Workforce credentials: Texas has the opportunity to significantly increase the number of workforce credentials—think certifications and degrees—earned in high school, particularly in rural schools, by adopting the recommendations of the Texas Commission on Virtual Education.

  • By 2030, 62% of jobs in Texas will require a postsecondary credential.

Texas Voter Poll take: 87% of Texas voters agree that community colleges should focus on offering course programs that match the needs of the local workforce.

Water Infrastructure 💧

Water infrastructure funding: The need to replace aging, deteriorating water infrastructure grows with each passing year. The Texas Legislature has a unique opportunity to create and capitalize a new fund dedicated to fixing our infrastructure problems and provide long-term solutions.

  • In 2021, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded Texas’ drinking water and wastewater infrastructure C- and D.

Regional water market frameworks: A regional approach to establishing water markets enables smarter water management strategies that lead to more efficient and effective water use.

Texas Voter Poll take: 84% of Texas voters support legislative action to create a fund to update aging water infrastructure.

Energy Expansion ⚡

All of the above: Texas needs to pursue an “all of the above” strategy as part of its energy expansion. This includes robust oil and gas production along with the development and deployment of hydrogen, geothermal, battery storage, carbon capture and underground storage, and an expanded renewable energy portfolio.

  • Texas produced roughly 2.5 times more energy than any other state in 2020.

Texas Voter Poll take: 72% of Texans want the state to remain as the nation’s energy leader in the adoption of new technologies of cleaner forms of energy

Broadband 💻

High-speed internet investments: Despite historic state and federal efforts to increase access to broadband in underserved rural and urban markets, Texas should ensure there is stable funding for the state’s broadband efforts.

  • Texas’ 2022 Broadband Plan states almost 2.8 million Texas households and 7 million people lack broadband access.

Texas Voter Poll take: 81% of Texans supported using $2 billion of federal funds to improve the state’s broadband and emergency communications infrastructure in 2021.

Affordable Health Care 🩺

All options on the table: To increase the number of insured Texans, policy options include providing eligible new mothers with extended Medicaid, increasing current Medicaid eligibility thresholds for low-income Texans and supporting actions that would result in more Texans enrolling in plans in the ACA Marketplace.

  • 18% of Texans—nearly 5 million people across the state—are uninsured.

Price transparency: Texas must ensure that price transparency rules are enforced and eliminate remaining barriers for patients to obtain useful information on price and quality at the point of decision.

  • 59% of Texans have skipped needed health care due to cost, including 56% of Texans with insurance, according to a 2021 Episcopal Health Foundation survey.

Texas Voter Poll take: 90% of Texans said they should be informed how much medical treatment will cost before they receive it.

Justice Data and Accountability ⚖️

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement modernization: Data and IT investments can improve the state’s regulatory framework for officers and agencies.

There have been 1,400 re-hirings of dishonorably discharged peace officers since 2012—while this represents a small percentage of all peace officers hired, research shows that these officers might be prone to the kind of misconduct that harms trust and confidence in law enforcement.

State court backlog: Support for the judicial workforce and upgrade to the judiciary’s legacy IT and data infrastructure can reduce the court backlog.

  • Since March 2020, 154,000 pending cases have been added to state district courts.

Texas Voter Poll take: 83% of Texas voters said making it harder to rehire law enforcement officers who were previously fired for poor conduct would increase their confidence in law enforcement.

General Government Performance 🏛️

Rising cost of living: Texas should pursue salary, benefits and workplace reforms to ensure the state government is able to recruit and retain high-quality employees. This can include pay raises, remote work, and skills-based hiring.

  • State agency turnover in 2021 was 21.5%, the highest in recent history.

Cybersecurity and IT investments: Modernization efforts using one-time budget surplus funds provide a long-term pathway to improving state technology.

  • Texas’ Network Security Operations Center regularly blocks upwards of 2.46 billion cyberattack attempts on state agencies every couple of months.

Texas Voter Poll take: 78% of Texans supported using $1 billion of federal funds to improve the state’s cybersecurity and technology systems in 2021.

👉 Learn more about our 2023 Legislative Agenda priorities here


It’s your turn, Texas!

What are your top policy priorities for the Texas Legislature to accomplish in 2023?

Let us know in our short survey.

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