DALLAS, June 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A landmark new report offers a vision and roadmap for Texas's future, setting out three dozen data-driven goals that could chart the state's course to economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
"Shaping Our Future: A Strategic Framework for Texas" was created by the nonprofit group Texas 2036. It is meant to be a resource to Texas officeholders, influencers, and the public, providing in-depth, cross-cutting data to inform key decisions about the biggest issues facing the state — issues that will affect Texans' quality of life and the strength of the economy through Texas's bicentennial in 2036.
The report demonstrates that even before the coronavirus hit, Texas's economic growth and quality of life were facing headwinds. But it also shows that policymakers have the resources, momentum, insight and flexibility to cultivate a workforce that is prepared for the 21st century economy, and to ensure that future generations of Texans experience economic prosperity.
"Texas has enormous opportunities and a ton of assets — I wouldn't trade places with anyone," said Margaret Spellings, president and CEO of Texas 2036 and former U.S. Secretary of Education. "Our state's future hinges on how well we prepare people for the opportunities and challenges we know are coming. Texas 2036 wants to build civic demand for specific solutions, helping Texans and their leaders focus on a fact-based set of priorities linked to our state's prosperity. It's up to us to determine our future."
The strategic framework establishes 36 strategic goals across seven policy areas — prosperity, health, education and workforce, infrastructure, natural resources, justice and safety, and government performance. It includes 167 indicators from publicly available information sources to measure the state's progress toward these goals, comparing Texas to peer states across the seven policy areas. Further, the report highlights cross-cutting themes and through lines as they relate to children, rural areas, and inequities among different populations based on race, income and other factors.
Tom Luce, Texas 2036's founder and chairman and a longtime Texas civic leader, stressed that the report tries to measure gaps and frame key questions to help set priorities. The strategic framework, Luce said, is intended to spark conversations and deliberation about how Texas should plan and prepare for the future, and how Texans should work to ensure the state's prosperity — especially as it reopens and rebuilds from the COVID-19 crisis.
"Over the past two years, Texas 2036 has spoken with hundreds of business and civic leaders and Texans across the state. This document spotlights key issues that we all believe will matter most over the next two decades. It provides a framework for debate about the most important questions we must work on together to ensure a bright future for Texas," Luce said. "State leaders are concentrating on urgent needs to help Texans, restore jobs, and move forward from this pandemic and economic crisis. But as the public begins to think about what comes next, our state's leaders can draw on the long-term data and planning found in this strategic framework to determine where Texas should focus and invest our time and resources — not just over the next year or two, but also for the next generation."
To raise awareness about the goals and to bring Texans together behind a platform that promotes prosperity, Texas 2036 encourages people across the state to add their names in support of these goals. The 36 members of the Texas 2036 board — a group that includes well-known community, civic, business and political leaders — has endorsed these goals.
Texas 2036 stresses reliance on relevant, trustworthy data as a key organizational value, and the report lays out dozens of metrics to chart the state's progress toward achieving the 36 goals. Among the strategic framework's findings:
Prosperity and Well-Being: Texas continues to lead the nation in gross domestic product — but it falls to the middle of the pack in quality of life among the 12 peer states that Texas 2036 has identified.
Education & Workforce: Texas performs relatively well compared to peers in the percentage of households that earn a living wage, but trails all of its peer states in the key metric of fourth-grade reading.
Health: While there are signs of progress around health care availability, Texas is last or near-last among its peers on measures ranging from access to primary care providers to affordability of health care.
Infrastructure: Texas leads the nation in total freight movement — but congested roads cost each Texan nearly $1,000 in lost time and fuel annually. And while advancements in broadband technology promise economic benefits, connectivity is significantly lacking in rural areas and among the state's economically disadvantaged households; access to broadband is critical in advancing innovations such as telemedicine and e-learning.
Natural Resources: Texas has used its position as the nation's energy leader to continue innovating new advancements in the sector — but improving air and water quality, bolstering the water supply, and increasing access to public lands as the state grows will continue to pose challenges.
Justice & Safety: While Texas finds more success in its rate of property crime and in addressing adverse childhood experiences, the state's violent crime rate remains far too high — Texas ranks second-to-last among its peers.
Government Performance:Texas ranks well in public confidence in government, but it has widely recognized needs to modernize its data management and talent recruitment.
Spellings said the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to take action on these issues, allowing Texas to rebuild its economy and workforce in ways that create future dividends as well as immediate ones. The framework, she added, illuminates opportunities and potential as much as challenges and problems.
"This strategic framework truly is what the people of Texas and their elected leaders make of it," Spellings said. "If Texans and their leaders begin working to make a real difference on these vital issues — especially as we rebuild our economy and workforce — then the opportunities described in the framework are clear and exciting. These things will only become problems if we ignore what the data is showing us."
A project of this scope would not have been possible without the contributions and collaboration of many people across the state and nation. Texas 2036 specifically thanks its 36-member board and financial supporters, many of whom have championed the group's efforts from the very beginning, for making this work possible. We are grateful for their generosity and ongoing commitment to the state's long-term wellbeing.
Texas 2036 also thanks the numerous consultants, experts, members of the Texas 2036 policy advisory committees, and state and business leaders who engaged with the group during the development of this report. We'd like to specifically thank the Boston Consulting Group for their contributions to the framework's structure, peer states, goals, and indicators.
Texas 2036 is a nonprofit organization building long-term, data-driven strategies to secure Texas' prosperity through our state's bicentennial and beyond. We offer non-partisan ideas and modern solutions that are grounded in research and data on issues that matter most to all Texans. For more information visit www.texas2036.org.