10 Principles for Texas
in the 21st Century
- Develop a better-educated workforce
- Direct more of every education dollar into the classroom
- Raise the bar on student performance
- Cut taxes in Texas
- Introduce competition into Texas government
- Improve government performance and accountability
- Reduce the size of government
- Bring common sense to regulations
- Use technology to cut costs and increase quality
- Return control to communities and individuals
I am renewing the challenge I issued more than two years ago with the release of my report, Border on the Brink.
In that March 2001 report, I said the health, education, insurance and infrastructure challenges faced by the Border then could very easily get worse and adversely affect the lives and livelihoods of all Texans unless quick action was taken.
Despite the fact that many of the conditions cited in the 2001 report have improved slightly, the 14-county Border region still lags significantly behind the rest of the state.
I am pleased to see some progress and improvements being made in the lives of Border residents. But, I believe most Border residents would agree there has not been enough progress. The Texas Border is literally the "Center of the Americas." Our Border region is critically important to the economies of North, South and Central America and to the lives and livelihood of billions of people.
It is imperative that the Border's challenges be addressed now.
Challenges facing the Border include a poverty rate of 29.1 percent, compared with the state's poverty rate of 14.5 percent. The percentage of school children in poverty is 35.3 percent, compared with the state's rate of 18.6 percent.
In 2000, 43.2 percent of Border residents ages 25 and older did not have at least a high school diploma; statewide, that number was 24.3 percent; and in the 211-county, non-Border area of the state, the figure was 22.2 percent.
In 2001, the 14-county Border region's per capita income was $16,493; the state's per capita income is $28,472. The 2001 death rate for the 14-county Border region was 29.2 deaths per 100,000; the death rate for the state was 25 deaths per 100,000.
The 2002 unemployment rate in the Border region was 10.7 percent; the state's rate was 6.3 percent. The employment growth rate was slightly better on the Border. The average annual employment growth rate from 1990 through 2000 in the Border region was 2.6 percent; the state's rate was 2.2 percent.
This is not a challenge for the Border. This is not a challenge for South Texas. This is a challenge for all Texans and a must. Texas is great, but we can do better.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn