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

OpportunityTexas: Learn. Earn. Save. (12/9/2010)

Texas faces numerous challenges but also has abundant opportunities to build the middle class and increase prosperity. Unfortunately, too many Texans are on the sideline, lacking access to opportunities to learn, earn, and save to secure a more prosperous future for themselves and their families.

To create jobs, increase income, and promote savings, Texas must develop and expand programs and policies to ensure greater prosperity for all Texans.

Baylor Talks Implications of Financial Reform for Texas and Consumers at Bankers' Breakfast (10/5/2010)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor presented, "Federal Financial Reform Implications for Texas and Consumers," at a Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas roundtable breakfast in San Antonio on September 30.

Federal Funding for Child Support is Critical to Children and Families (09/16/2010)

Over $1 billion in funding for state child support programs could potentially be cut from the 2011 federal budget if Congress fails to repeal funding cuts enacted as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and restore full funding for the child support program. A cut of this magnitude would be devastating to states and needy children. According to the Congressional Budget Office, child support collections would decline by over $2 billion. What’s at Stake Because the cut would be to the federal matching funds on incentive payments earned by state child support programs, states, such as Texas, with the best performance would stand to lose the most funding. Because the cut would be to the federal matching funds on incentive payments earned by state child support programs, states, such as Texas, with the best performance would stand to lose the most funding.

A Cut to Child Support Funding Would Jeopardize Successful Employment Programs for Noncustodial Parents (09/13/2010)

As the U.S. Congress returns to work today from their Labor Day recess, members must take action on Senate Bill (SB) 1859 to further their commitment to strengthening American families.

Laboring for Less: As Texans Celebrate Labor Day, New Numbers Show Their Personal Income Loses Ground to Other States (09/2/2010)

Recent data on personal income and per capita personal income released by the Bureau of Economic Statistics (BEA) demonstrates the devastating effects of the recession on Americans across the country, especially in Texas where per capita personal income fell from a rank of 26 to 29 in the United States. Despite a 2 percent population increase in Texas between 2008 and 2009, total personal income declined by 1.6 percent to $904.2 billion. Although Texas had a lower unemployment rate (8.2 percent) compared to the national average (9.5 percent), per capita personal income in the state declined faster than the national rate. Twenty-one out of the 25 Texas metro areas (MSA) experienced declines in per capita personal income. Statewide, the decline in per capita personal income has been most pronounced in the larger MSAs during the recession. The data also indicate the role of unemployment insurance (UI) as an income stabilizer. Without the state UI program and federal UI extensions, per capita income would have fallen as much as 4 percent in 2009.

Federal Financial Reform: Implications for Texas and Consumers (08/10/2010)

How will financial reform affect Texas and consumers? CPPP Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor recently spelled out the implications of reform at an FDIC Alliance for Economic Inclusion (AEI) meeting.

Texas Tuition Promise Fund: Using College Savings To Increase College Success (06/28/2010)

The old saying, “You have to learn to earn,” underscores the importance of investing in higher education. Yet rising tuition, limited financial aid, and a lack of savings keeps college out of reach, and out of mind, for many Texas families, especially low-income families.

Although the Legislature created the Texas Tuition Promise Fund explicitly to reach low-income students, an analysis of the plan’s first two years demonstrates that students who most need college savings accounts largely remain untouched.

To close the gaps, the state must align its college savings plans and master plan for higher education to seamlessly provide incentives for economically disadvantaged students to begin college savings.

Common-sense Principles for Immigration Reform (04/29/2010)

As Arizona’s controversial new immigration law makes clear, Americans are frustrated about immigration. While we share Arizona’s frustration, we strongly reject its approach. Congress must act to reform our immigration system"it is critical to our national security, our economy, and who we are as a nation. As the President has said, "failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others."

To promote responsible action, we propose a common-sense approach. Our approach is similar to that of a broad-based coalition of Texas employers that have joined together as Texas Employers for Immigration Reform (TEIR). This convergence of views says something important: The divide on immigration is not between business and workers or conservatives and progressives; it is between the informed and the uninformed. If our nation follows common-sense principles, we can reform our immigration system in a way that that protects our national security, strengthens our economy, enhances labor standards for all workers, and honors American traditions and constitutional principles.

Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine Testifies Before House Ways and Means (04/28/2010)

Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine testified before the Texas House Ways and Means Committee about the optional homestead exemption.

Turning Community College Drop-outs into Graduates (04/22/2010)

Texas community colleges have a high dropout rate, which limits economic opportunity for Texans and poses a major barrier to building and sustaining a skilled workforce. Although two-thirds of Texas college-bound high school graduates are prepared for college work, a large number of recent graduates and adults returning to pursue higher education are not college ready. Those underprepared for college face the hurdle of completing remedial courses-known as developmental education-in one or all core subject areas of math, reading, and writing--before enrolling in credit-bearing coursework.

Nationally, fewer than 40 percent of students who are referred to developmental education actually enroll in college-level courses. With emerging demand for higher-skilled workers, developmental education reforms are key to maximizing access to good jobs and moving the Texas economy forward.

Census Jobs in Texas (02/26/2010)

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring thousands of workers in Texas to help conduct the 2010 Census. More than 84,000 jobs will be created throughout the state during peak operations. This policy point tells you more. An accurate Census count has direct implications for every Texan. Many government funding decisions for services such as schools, housing, job training, roads, health care, and social services rely on Census data. Many communities are historically undercounted. Census workers can help ensure an accurate count for the 2010 Census.

A One-Year Anniversary Report on ARRA and Jobs (02/16/2010)

On the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this policy page provides an overview of the impact of ARRA on employment in Texas and makes recommendations as Congress considers proposals to protect existing jobs and create more jobs.

Fighting Hunger, Improving Nutrition: Progress and Opportunities in the Texas Legislature (01/22/2010)

CPPP senior food and nutrition policy analyst Celia Hagert delivered this presentation on "fighting hunger, improving nutrition" to the Texas Food Policy Roundtable, a new initiative founded by the Christian Life Commission of the General Baptist Convention of Texas.

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