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

Statement: McCown Rates PolitiFact PANTS ON FIRE for UI Column (12/19/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown made the following comments on the Austin American Statesman’s PolitiFact:

“In a post on December 15, and again in today’s newspaper, the Austin American Statesman’s PolitiFact labeled ‘Mostly False’ a point made by U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett that is supported by mainstream economists, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. To that we say, PANTS ON FIRE.

OpportunityTexas: Building a Strong Middle Class (11/2/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor and OpportunityTexas Project Coordinator Laura Rosen gave this presentation about OpportunityTexas at the RAISE Texas Summit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on November 2, 2011.

College Access, Success and the 82nd Texas Legislature (11/2/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor gave this presentation, “College Access, Success and the 82nd Texas Legislature," at the RAISE Texas Summit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas November 2, 2011.

Building a Strong Middle Class: the Role of College Savings Accounts (11/1/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor gave this presentation, "Building a Strong Middle Class: the Role of College Savings Accounts," on the State Platforms for College Savings Accounts panel at the College Savings Forum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on November 1, 2011.

Congress Should Pass the American Jobs Act to Get the Economy Moving and Texans Back to Work (10/7/2011)

The American Jobs Act takes the right approach to creating jobs and reducing long-term unemployment by expanding employment and training programs for unemployed Americans and continuing unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to those out of work for more than six months. Texas has suffered from persistently high unemployment over the past two years. Our state simply has more people looking for work than available jobs. If Congress does not continue federal UI benefits, an estimated 150,000 unemployed Texans will be cut off, leaving them without help and creating a drag on our economy.

Statement on the American Jobs Act (10/4/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor regarding the American Jobs Act:

“The American Jobs Act takes the right approach to creating jobs by using proven state-level reemployment efforts that get Americans back to work. More urgently, we also need to continue unemployment insurance benefits while Texans build job skills and intensify their search for work."

How Texas Measures Up in the 2010 American Community Survey (09/22/2011)

American Community Survey

New data from the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS)1 illustrates that poverty and uninsured rates vary dramatically by age, race and ethnicity, and across Texas’ metropolitan areas. Our analyses of the ACS data, released September 22, focus on 10 of the most striking findings.

Under Attack: Texas' Middle Class and the Opportunity Crisis (08/19/2011)

(AUSTIN, Texas) " The American Dream means working hard to learn, earn, save, and build assets so that our families are financially secure. These opportunities are in short supply in Texas. As today’s new jobs numbers show, Texas’ unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent, marking the 23rd month the state unemployment rate has exceeded 8 percent, which ties the modern-day stretch set in the wake of the 1980s oil and real estate bust (Feb. 1986-Dec. 1987). With the state’s jobless rate higher than the past two recessions, many more Texans are experiencing sharp losses in their family income. A new report released today titled, “Under Attack: Texas’ Middle Class and the Job Crisis" suggests that stagnant incomes, a lack of good-paying jobs, and a lack of health insurance are the real issues that are crippling Texas’ middle class.

The report, co-published by CPPP and national policy center Demos, examines how stagnant wages, falling union participation, the lack of good jobs and health benefits, and the rising cost of a college education are all squeezing the Texas’ middle class.

Funding Public Education (08/1/2011)

This presentation provides a quick overview of the status of funding for public education in Texas after the 2011 legislative session.

Ready, Steady, Go! Strategies to Improve Texans' Financial Readiness to Pay for College (07/12/2011)

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

Promoting College Success (04/26/2011)

Expanding economic opportunity in Texas depends on our state’s ability to increase the college graduation rate for the thousands of college freshmen arriving on campuses each year. The pending budget bills would hamper college access for thousands of Texans through severe cuts to successful financial aid programs, including TEXAS Grants (Towards Excellence Access and Success) and other grants for aspiring college students. Despite these cuts, several bills aim to promote college success through developmental education, performance-based funding, and more eligibility restrictions for TEXAS Grants. This policy page provides an overview of this pending legislation.

CPPP Applauds Bipartisan Effort to Reform Payday and Auto Title Lending (04/21/2011)

Over the past several years, unregulated and high-cost, short-term lending has taken a toll on Texas consumers and communities. Without state oversight, Texas consumers do not have basic protections against abusive lending practices or a way to escape the cycle of debt which traps Texans with unlimited fees. The 82nd Legislature has a unique opportunity to address these problems by enacting House Bill (HB) 2592, 2593, and 2594.

Testimony: HB 120 Builds on Success of NCP Choices Program (04/11/2011)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities supports House Bill (HB) 120, which would codify and expand the award-winning noncustodial parent (NCP) Choices program. NCP Choices has demonstrated great success in helping noncustodial parents find employment, increasing the amount and consistency of child support payments, and increasing the household incomes of custodial parents. By increasing child support payments to low-income families, the program has the added benefit of reducing the reliance on TANF cash assistance by custodial parents and decreasing unemployment insurance claims.

Testimony: Enhancing College Access through a Statewide Financial Preparation Model (03/9/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor and OpportunityTexas Project Coordinator Laura Rosen presented testimony before the House Committee on Higher Education regarding House Bill (HB) 34 and enhancing college access through statewide financial preparation. This testimony emphasizes the importance of FAFSA completion as a college access support.

Payday Lending by Any Other Name Is Still Payday Lending: Closing the Credit Service Organization Loophole (02/21/2011)

A thriving economy needs access to credit to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Many Texas working families living paycheck-to-paycheck also need consumer credit to bridge the gaps between their income and basic needs. Consumer credit products should have protections, enabling Texans to meet their obligations while building their credit. Unfortunately, the Texas Credit Service Organization (CSO) loophole allows payday and auto-title lending without state oversight and consumer protections. On Tuesday, February 22, the Texas Senate will hear testimony on Senate Bill 253 to close the CSO loophole, restore consumer protection, and create opportunity for Texans.

Proposed State Budget Denies 96,000 Aspiring Texas Students Financial Aid (02/9/2011)

The proposed state budget in Senate Bill 1 cuts Texas’ college financial aid grant programs by 39 percent, reducing the state’s investment in postsecondary grant aid by $385 million. Even at current funding levels, Texas’s grant programs only reach about half of eligible students. Funding cuts for state grant programs will further shift costs to hard working students and families and will serve as a barrier to college access and success in Texas.

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