ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY


Many Texans are poor, not because they don't work, but because their work pays too little to raise a family out of poverty. To ensure economic prosperity, Texas public policy must support work, make work pay, and help families build their assets. The most important thing the state can do to enhance economic opportunity is to invest in public education—from early childhood education all the way through higher education.

Recent Economic Opportunity Publications

What We Know About Property Tax Lending So Far (10/18/2007)

Property tax lending is the practice of soliciting property owners who are delinquent in their property tax payments to take out a loan to cover the tax payments. In return, the lender takes over the tax lien on the property, allowing the lender to foreclose on the property if payments are missed. Local county tax assessors/collectors offer a wide range of options to delinquent property owners that would allow them to avoid taking out a property tax loan. Despite these options, property tax lending is a rapidly growing industry in Texas, targeted especially at residential homeowners, who account for roughly four out of every five tax loan borrowers. The Texas Finance Commission is now reviewing regulations governing this type of lending.

Our Grade Is In: Texas Receives "F" in Financial Stability (09/12/2007)

When it comes to our ability to achieve financial success, Texas residents are falling behind the rest of the country, according to a report released today by the national Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). According to the 2007-2008 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, Texas was just one of five states that earned an “F” based on poor performance in the following areas: Financial Security, Business Development, Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.

The State of Working Texas 2007 (09/2/2007)

The State of Working Texas 2007 is CPPP’s annual Labor Day report on the status of the Texas economy and workforce drawing from various federal and state data sources, with assistance from the Economic Policy Institute. This report analyzes trends in unemployment, wages, and demographics, along with other issues that affect working Texans. On a positive note, unemployment has declined considerably, the gender wage gap has narrowed, and a smaller share of workers is earning poverty wages. On the negative side, Texas continues to lag far behind the nation and even the region on several key indicators, including educational attainment, health insurance, and wage growth.

The Federal Minimum Wage Increase and Texas (07/24/2007)

Today the minimum wage in Texas increased from $5.15 to $5.85 as part of the first federal minimum wage increase in ten years. The minimum wage will increase again to $6.55 in July 2008, with a final increase to $7.25 in July 2009. Texas is currently the only state of the eleven most populous states whose state minimum wage is not higher than the federal standard, and therefore stands to gain the most from the federal increase.

National Study: Pre-K Investment in Texas Could Save Billions (07/11/2007)

According to new state data released by the national Economic Policy Institute, Texas could save billions of public dollars over the upcoming decades by immediately investing in pre-kindergarten programs. In Texas, high-quality pre-K programs would begin paying for themselves within eight years, according to a state-level analysis of the Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation study.

Testimony on Texas College Savings Programs (06/28/2007)

Don Baylor presented testimony before the House Select Committee on Public and Higher Education Finance on policy options surrounding Texas’ college savings programs, including the Texas Tomorrow Fund, Texas Tomorrow Fund II, and the 529 college savings plan, to be managed by OFI Private Investments. This testimony emphasizes the importance of matching provisions for these programs in order to boost plan enrollment and incentivize college savings for working families.

The Federal Minimum Wage and Texas (05/25/2007)

Yesterday Congress passed the first increase in the federal minimum wage in a decade. Under the bill, which is expected to be signed by the President any day, the minimum wage would climb from $5.15 to $7.25/hour over the next 26 months. The first increase would occur 60 days after the bill is signed and would raise the minimum wage to $5.85/hour. It would then increase to $6.55/hour in 2008 and $7.25/hour in 2009. Since Texas' minimum wage is linked to the federal standard, 863,000 low-wage Texas workers earning less than $7/hour (8.5% of the statewide workforce) will see their wages increase.

Testimony on HB 48 (05/16/2007)

Don Baylor provided testimony on HB 48 before the Senate Committee on Finance. HB 48 relates to distributions from the employment and training investment holding fund.

Testimony on HB 3900 (05/7/2007)

Don Baylor provided testimony on HB 3900 before the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education. HB 3900 relates to the Texas Tomorrow Fund II prepaid tuition unit undergraduate education program.

Testimony on Tax Filing Assistance for EITC and Low-Income Filers (04/18/2007)

Don Baylor testified before the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means committees on behalf of a proposal that would assist free tax preparation for EITC and other low-income filers.

Less Than Three Weeks Remain to Claim EITC (04/2/2007)

Most folks realize that less than three weeks remain to file federal income taxes. But did you know that if you earned up to $38,348 in 2006 you may be eligible for a large refund? The refund comes by way of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC.

EITC 101 (03/26/2007)

First enacted in 1975 under President Ford, the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a federal tax credit designed to "make work pay" by providing low- and moderate-income working families with a credit on their earned income. President Reagan called the EITC “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” Every year, the EITC lifts over 450,000 Texans"including 250,000 children"out of poverty while pumping billions of dollars into the economy. In Texas, the average EITC refund is $2,050. Find out if you or someone you know qualifies. Also access EITC data by House and Senate districts.

Rapacious Loan Sharks Stalk Low, Middle-Income Texans: Amarillo Globe-News (03/15/2007)

Loan sharks are preying on families across the nation, especially in Texas. At the federal level, Congress is helping to protect military families. But millions of working families remain vulnerable. Amarillo families"who earn 15% less than the average Texas family"are particularly at risk.

Loopholes Allow Loan Sharks to Prey on Hardworking Texans: San Antonio Express-News (02/16/2007)

Loan sharks are preying on families across the nation, especially in Texas. At the federal level, Congress is helping to protect military families. But millions of other families remain vulnerable. Families in San Antonio are among the hardest hit.

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