We founded Texas 2036 to ensure Texas spends the next 15 years keeping our state as the best place to live, raise a family and do business.
This will not be an easy job.
Texas is projected to grow by nearly 10 million people in the next 15 years, meaning we have to create about 8 million new jobs over that timeframe. By comparison, about 7.5 million people live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area today. So, Texas has 15 years to fold another North Texas — and then some —into the economy. These new Texans will need schools, workforce initiatives, healthcare, roads, broadband and efficient government services, just as we do today.
There are already danger signs. 70% of Texas fourth-graders cannot read at grade level, and 60% cannot perform math at a level that meets national standards. Fewer than 30% of Texas high school graduates earn a post-high school degree or certificate within six years of graduation —even though 71% of jobs will require some level of higher education by 2036.
Uncertain future oil prices threaten the state’s rainy-day fund and put as much as $40 billion of Texas education funding at risk. Texans face increasing healthcare premiums and prices, which have led to more than five million Texans without health insurance and some of the country’s worst health outcomes.
But coming out of this pandemic, we have a chance to secure our future while remaining a business-friendly environment that is competitive with our peer states. We will do that if we take advantage of a one-time infusion of $88 billion in new federal revenue coming to state and local governments, including education institutions, in a practical and wise manner.
This money comes from 2020 stimulus bills (CARES and CRRSAA), which returned $39 billion to state and local governments, and 2021’s ARPA, which is expected to send $48.8 billion to Texas over the next few years. There could be more coming if Congress approves the infrastructure bill that Congress will soon be debating.
Let’s put that $88 billion in perspective.
The current biannual $250 billion state budget working its way through the legislature does not yet account for many of these dollars, as Texas legislators wait to see the federal requirements to spend them.
With good planning and a unifying vision, this funding can be truly transformative if we take the time to answer several key questions before the resources are deployed.
- Will we have an open and transparent debate as to how those new funds will be spent?
- Will we set measurable, attainable goals for those dollars?
- Will we report progress, or lack thereof, so Texans can adjust accordingly?
- Will we truly invest the dollars in sustainable and affordable ways for future years?
- Will we tackle the real, but systemic problems of education, workforce, health, natural resources, infrastructure, justice and safety, and government performance?
- Will the state step forward with standards, assessments and accountability while guiding local entities in our diverse state on the best ways to achieve these goals?
We are at an inflection point. Texas 2036 understands it is important for us to take the time to think big, ask the right questions, bring together Texans to tackle clear, data-driven objectives, and make sure future generations look back and know we made every dollar count.