The future, as Texas voters see it

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter about voters’ responses to our Texas Voter Poll. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.

Texas 2036’s sixth Texas Voter Poll is here. We break down some of the top takeaways from our poll results.

Texas Voter Poll 2/22/23

The voters have spoken 🗳

With lawmakers busy in the Capitol determining funding priorities for the next two years… we asked Texas voters about some of the biggest budget priorities under consideration at the Legislature.

Texas voters were close to a consensus that fixing the state’s aging and deteriorating water infrastructure should be a priority. They also strongly backed directing resources to:

  • Revamp and enhance funding for community colleges.
  • Improve the state’s technology and cybersecurity.
  • Build new state parks and improve existing parks.

One more thing… the voters in the survey favored dedicating equal portions of Texas’ record-setting $32.7 billion revenue surplus — 23.4% each, to be exact — toward the twin priorities of property tax relief and increasing public education funding.

About the poll: Originally launched in 2020, our Texas Voter Poll assesses general attitudes about the state. This is the sixth edition.

  • This survey of 1,000 registered Texas voters gauges public support for non-partisan policies and lays out a roadmap for state leaders to strengthen voter confidence and move Texas forward.

We’re releasing results of the Texas Voter Poll in segments over the next couple of weeks. Future releases will address topics like Texans’ concerns for the future, planning for extreme weather conditions and ensuring Texas schoolchildren leave school college and career ready. Stay tuned!

Water, the state’s lifeblood 💧

What’s the biggest takeaway? The overwhelming — and growing — support that Texans are expressing for lawmakers to invest in the state’s water infrastructure.

  • 89% of Texas voters tell us now that fixing Texas’ aging water infrastructure is a priority worth spending $5 billion to address.

Support continues to heat up… when we asked about this in August — at the peak of Texas heat — 84% of Texas voters were in favor of Texas creating a fund to help update the aging water infrastructure.

Margaret Spellings water quote Texas Voter Poll 2/22/23

The problem of aging, deteriorating water systems merits our urgent attention. Each year:

Texas communities experience thousands of boil water notices and thousands of sanitary sewer overflows across this state.

  • On top of this, the state’s aging, deteriorating systems leak enough water to fill a major storage reservoir the size of Lake Buchanan or Possum Kingdom Lake every year.

Preparing for the next flood… 84% of Texas voters also support using $2 billion, or about 6% of the surplus, for improvements to another important aspect of the state’s water strategy, flood prevention infrastructure.

Dive deeper: Texas 2036’s Water Infrastructure Blueprint

Other priorities: education, cybersecurity, parks and property tax relief 📊

Texas voter support coalesced around a handful of other important investments where the current $32.7 billion revenue surplus could be directed:

Community College Education: 79% of Texas voters support using $650 million, or about 2% of the surplus, to invest in overdue changes to the way community colleges are funded so that students’ outcomes are linked to good jobs.

  • A useful tool: Texas 2036 recently launched a simulator to help policymakers and anyone else interested in the topic work through the funding implications of proposed changes to community colleges’ funding streams.

A.J. Rodriguez Texas Voter Poll 2/22/23

Cybersecurity and technology: 83% of Texas voters support using $2 billion, or about 6% of the surplus, to improve the state’s technology and cybersecurity.

  • Helping some of the state’s most vulnerable: 80% agreed the state should provide $80 million to update information technology at the Department of Family and Protective Services.

State parks: 73% of Texas voters support using $1 billion, or about 3% of the surplus to build new state parks and improve existing parks.

Broadband and space: Texas voters also strongly supported greater investments in these consequential technology fields.

  • 88% of Texas voters backed pursuing the maximum amount of federal funds to support broadband expansion across the state.
  • 73% said it was important for state lawmakers to invest $350 million into the creation of a Texas Space Commission.

Spending on public education vs. property tax relief: Texas voters would dedicate the same average percentage — 23.4% — of the $32.7 billion state budget surplus to property tax relief as they would to increasing public education funding.

Can this be paid for? 💵

Taken together, these popular investments in water infrastructure, flood prevention, IT and cybersecurity, state parks and community colleges total $10.7 billion. That’s a lot of money, no doubt about it. Consider the following, though…

  • It adds up to less than a third of the state’s general revenue surplus of $32.7 billion.
  • Even adding in the $15.3 billion that voters would set aside for property tax relief and increasing public education funding, budget writers would still have billions left from the current surplus for other priorities.

Plus: Budget writers have access to other sources of funding, which themselves are sizable.

John Hryhorchuk Texas Voter Poll 2/22/23

  • $5.4 billion in federal stimulus funds that can be spent like general revenue.
  • $27.1 billion balance in the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the Rainy Day Fund, is projected for the end of Fiscal Year 2025.
  • Lawmakers can ask voters for authorization through a constitutional amendment to make funding for some of these items constitutionally dedicated, removing them from spending limit restrictions.

These numbers are certain to change as lawmakers continue the process of writing the next budget. We will keep track of those choices. Stay tuned for more!

Action Center art Texas Voter PollWield the budget pen… where would you invest?

Tell us what policy areas would benefit the most from greater investments!