A recent New Yorker article claims that America is turning into Texas. If so, here’s some of what you can look forward to.
IF AMERICA BECOMES TEXAS
THE UP SIDE TO TEXAS
The people are friendly, the winters are mild, and there’s a strong job market. Compared to many states, taxes are relatively low. Shopping is pleasant, steak is a good choice for dinner, and there are many nice places to eat out. Local theater is surprisingly good, very reasonable, and parking is easy.
RED STATE/BLUE STATE
Although the Texas state government is run by very conservative Republicans, there are a lot of Democrats living in the cities—and not only in Austin (known for its strong Democratic presence). In fact, The Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News—both Republican tilting newspapers—supported Hillary Clinton in the recent Presidential election. However, as Texas Democrats tend to limit their voting to Presidential elections, the overwhelming power of state Republicans is unlikely to be challenged any time soon.
DEEP IN THE BIBLE BELT
Texas is the 11th most religious state according to Pew research. Sixty three percent of all Texans claim religion is very important in their lives and say they pray daily. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are the dominant religions. There is strong support for eliminating abortion and contraception as family planning tools.
LICENSED TO CARRY
In April, 2016, there were 1,017,618 active handgun license holders in Texas—a gun-loving state and, for the most part, proud of it. In Harris County (the most populous Texas county), there are 139,563 licensed gun owners—more than in the entire state of Louisiana (only 94,638 licensed owners). As of January, 2016, licensed Texans were also allowed to openly carry their guns.
HIGHEST MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE
Researchers have found that the Texas rate of pregnancy-related deaths is the highest in the U.S. It is also the highest in the entire world of developed nations. Thus far Texas state government has made no effort to change these statistics. Although black women make up only 11% of Texan births, they suffer 28% of the pregnancy-related deaths. One reason is very clear: Texas has been slashing funding for family planning clinics since 2011—especially targeting Planned Parenthood. As a result, it has become very difficult for women to obtain inexpensive abortions or contraceptives.
LOSS OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD SERVICES
Despite the claims of pro-life organizations, abortions are only 3% of Planned Parenthood services. The other 97% include: testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; cancer screening and prevention; pregnancy tests and prenatal care; general family healthcare for poor families, and more. Without Planned Parenthood many low-income Texas women find it difficult or next to impossible to get basic health care for themselves and pediatric care for their children.
THE MOST PEOPLE WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE
According to data from Gallup-Healthways, Texas is the state with the highest percentage—27%—of uninsured people, as of February, 2017. (Massachusetts and Hawaii had the fewest uninsured—3.2% each.) In December, 2016, Texas cut $350 million from a Medicaid program affecting the access of roughly 60,000 disabled children to speech and occupational therapy.
ADOPTION ISSUES FOR MUSLIMS, JEWS, AND MORE
Last May, the Texas state House voted to approve House Bill 3859 allowing adoption agencies (private and state funded) to deny Muslims, LGBTs, Jews, Hindus, and others the right to adopt children.
SCHOOL FUNDING BELOW NATIONAL AVERAGE
In 2011, the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from its school, resulting in a broad lawsuit. In May, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court found the state’s school finances deeply flawed, and barely constitutional. 2017, the Texas per-pupil spending continued to fall farther below the national average. Currently, Texas ranks 36th, nationwide, in classroom spending.
PENDING: STATE BILL RE TRANSGENDER BATHROOMS
The Texas House recently approved a bill requiring transgender students to use bathrooms that match their birth gender. It is expected that some version of this bill will also pass the Senate.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• newyorker.com - Basis for this article
• abc13.com - Maternal mortality rate
• businessinsider.com - Health insurance info
• nbcdfw.com - Medicaid cuts for disabled kids
• houstonchronicle.com - Controversial adoption bill
• usnews.com - State funding for public schools
• dallasnews.com - Texas taxes
• pewresearch.org - Religion
• nytimes.com - Gun culture
• kut.org - Open gun carry ruling
• washingtonpost.com - State bill re transgender school bathroom