Investing in Education Will Build a Stronger Texas Economy

Chandra Villanueva

The best way for Texas to grow its economy is by investing in a well-educated workforce, according to a new paper published by EPI for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), a network of 61 state and local economic think tanks and 25 national partners founded by the Economic Policy Institute and several other state and national groups, including CPPP.

The paper, A Well Educated Workforce is Key to State Prosperity, finds a strong link between the educational attainment of state workforces and both productivity and median wages. Expanding access to high quality education will create more economic opportunity for Texans and do more to strengthen the state’s overall economy than anything else.

The reality of the Texas economic miracle is growth in low-wage, low-skills jobs that don’t provide the resources needed for Texas families to get by let alone get ahead. With more than 60 percent of Texas school children being economically disadvantaged and only 34.4 percent of adult Texans having an associate’s degree or higher, Texas must make greater investments in public and higher education in order to build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity.

According to the paper, ways to increase the educational attainment of Texans include working to slow the growth of college tuition, increasing financial aid, investing in quality K-12 education, and offering universal preschool programs.

Meanwhile, strategies such as cutting taxes to lure employers and capture private investments from other states are shortsighted, and promote a race to the bottom, which undermines states’ ability to invest in and attract an educated workforce. The paper finds no clear relationship between a state’s tax rates and its wages.

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