State Democrats issued their version of the state of the state this afternoon. The Democratic-run Legislative Study Group released the fifth edition of Texas on the Brink: How Texas Ranks Among the Fifty States today. The short booklet ranks Texas against other states on key issues like as childcare, education, and health services. And whether it’s education or incarceration, the numbers do not look good.
When it comes to public schools, Texas ranked 43 out of 50 states in high school graduation, 45th in SAT scores, and dead last in the percentage of the population with a high school diploma. “Think about it,” said state Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, at the press conference. “Does this mean that Texans are functionally illiterate?… The rest of the country is moving forward, and Texas children are being left behind.”
State health care had similarly bleak numbers—it’s dead last in mental health care funding and 49th out of 50 in per capita spending on Medicaid. The Lone Star State also has the highest uninsured population in the nation, according to state Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco.
When it came environmental standards, Texas was number one—a dubious distinction. Our state releases the most toxic chemicals into water and the most carginogens into the air. We’re also number one in the overall amount of hazardous waste generated.
Democratic “doomsayers” had little good news to give, but as LSG Chair Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, promised that, “’Texas On The Brink’ is not designed to shame Texas,” he said, “but to inspire Texas to become better.” Of course, if it shames a few Republicans, he probably wouldn’t be disappointed.
With budget cuts proposed across the board, it is likely that Texas will slip even further down national rankings in terms of education and health and human service. As they’ve done in several press conferences, House Democrats demurred when it came to solutions, instead pointing at the GOP. “Because of our numbers, our role is really to educate people about the consequences of the decisions that the supermajority is about to make,” said state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. He argued questions about fixing problems and how to improve the state “is a question better leveled to those who are in control.”