When Texans conjure up the rally cries of past Texas heroes, those cries usually do not include the word “data.” But they should.
As our chairman, Tom Luce, likes to say, “Without data, you are just a person with an opinion.” And Texans, like most Americans, have plenty of opinions about a lot of things, particularly how effective government is.
For instance, we spent billions of dollars on health care last year – how well did we do? Did those extra dollars generate better outcomes?
How’d our schools do? Did kids leave 4th grade able to read? Are Texas students getting the skills businesses covet?
What about state government services? The current two-year state budget spends $250 billion. Did that investment improve state services? And are we measuring the satisfaction of those being served?
Without data, there will just be a lot of opinions. And Texas has a surprising lack of really good data that answers the right questions and is gathered comprehensively.
That means it’s harder to know where we are, where we are heading, and how to spend the limited dollars we have available to meet our needs. Or to prepare for a crisis like the one that hit us this year with the pandemic. Or to show gaps and inequities across demographic groups and regions of our state.