Voters expressed more concern about some of these issues after hearing more information about them. For example, told that health care costs are rising for families and individuals while Texas health outcomes are among the worst in the nation, 66 percent of Texans described themselves as very or extremely concerned.
Then the pandemic hit, spotlighting many of the inequities and weaknesses that already threatened to hamstring the state’s continued success. If Texas is going to build broad consensus around long-term solutions to generational challenges like a shortage of skilled workers or severe congestion on our highways, then more Texans need to be thinking about those challenges. More Texans must understand the substantial needs of a state that will add 10 million residents over the next 16 years.
That’s why Texas 2036 is here and why our work is important: we use data to highlight issues that may not be on the front pages today but will be critical to our future.
What remains to be seen is how the coronavirus pandemic changes Texans’ outlook. Certainly, the economic optimism and success from January have dissipated, at least for the moment. It’s possible, unfortunately, that the need for Texans to recover economically and reconnect with their communities, while still balancing concerns about the virus and social justice issues, will make it even more difficult to focus attention on the challenges looming over our future.
Or perhaps this pandemic has proven just how important long-term thinking is. Texas has been painfully reminded that world events can upend our economic success, and also that resources such as the health care system can be tested in unforeseen ways. We have seen the importance of planning for mass interruptions in learning and employment.
We all wish the coronavirus had never come to Texas. Its devastation will impact this state for years. But our state will recover from this pandemic, and one legacy of that recovery must be a greater understanding that today’s prosperity can quickly disappear.
It serves all of us to be well-prepared for the future, regardless of what that future may bring.
This is why Texas 2036 has been amassing and contextualizing hundreds of data sets that show where Texas is today and where we are heading on critical policy areas, such as education, justice and safety, health, infrastructure, natural resources, government performance.
On Thursday, June 18, we will be rolling out “Shaping Our Future,” a strategic framework that takes a comprehensive look at the forces and issues defining the future of Texas. It lays out aspirational goals that link directly to our state’s collective prosperity and provides the data that shows why these matter. We look forward to talking with Texans about the opportunities and challenges facing our great state and finding out what matters the most to them, their families and businesses now and in the future.
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