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Texas Legislative Issues 2023

With an unprecedented $33 billion budget surplus, Texas legislators have many decisions ahead. How much of the surplus should be spent and on what projects? Does the public support saving a considerable amount of the windfall? And what do Texans think about pressing policy issues such as education, abortion and energy? Will 2023 be the year that voters determine whether casino gambling is allowed in the Lone Star State? In a time of political polarization, are there any areas of partisan agreement? To answer these questions and more, the Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted a survey between Jan. 9 and Jan.19, 2023, in English and Spanish, with 1,200 adult Texans, resulting in a confidence interval of +/-2.8%. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education and are representative of the adult population in Texas.

The results of this survey will be presented in seven separate reports regarding the state budget surplus, casino gambling, school choice, and issues such as marijuana, abortion, firearms, elections, immigration and energy.

 

Report One. State Budget Surplus

Saving: The median Texan believes that between $10 and $14 billion of the record-breaking budget surplus should be saved (27% align with this position), with 38% of Texans favoring saving less (20% at $5 to $9 billion and 18% at $0 to $4 billion) and 35% favoring saving more (19% at $15 to $19 billion, 8% at $20 to $24 billion, and 8% at $25 to $33 billion).

Spending: When presented with 13 different expenditure items, all items enjoy substantial support, with public school safety and security grants garnering the highest level of support at 85%.

 33-billion-surplus graph.

Veterans: 84% of Texans support legislation that would reimburse Texas public colleges and universities for at least 50% of the cost of providing veterans and their dependents with tuition benefits under legislation that has been passed by the Texas Legislature.

Postpartum Medicaid Coverage: 75% of Texans support legislation that would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage in Texas from 6 months to 12 months.

Sales Tax Exemptions: Considerable majorities of Texans support legislation that, if passed, would provide Texas sales tax exemptions for different products, with support ranging from 87% to 67%.

sales-tax-exempt graph.

Read Report One to learn more about where Texans stand on these proposed budget items, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release Jan. 24, 2023

 

Report Two. Gambling

Texas Senate Joint Resolution 17 (SJR 17), if passed by the Legislature, would require approval by a majority of voters in a November constitutional referendum. It would allow one casino resort in each of the state’s four major metro areas – Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio – along with limited casino gambling at horse and greyhound racetracks and legalized sports betting. It also would allow the state’s three recognized tribal communities to operate slot machines or casino gambling.

Support for SJR 17 is widespread across demographic and partisan lines in the Lone Star State:

  • 75% of Texans support the passage of SJR 17, including 41% strongly supporting it.
  • Partisan support ranges from 80% of Democrats to 74% of Independents and 72% of Republicans.
  • Support spans the state’s sprawling geography: 75% of urban Texans, 74% of rural Texans and 66% of suburban residents support passage.

In addition, 69% of Texans support separate legislation that would only legalize online and in-person sports betting in the state.

Read Report Two to learn more about where Texans stand on an expansion of gambling in the state, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release Jan. 26, 2023

 

Report Three. School Choice

This report examines support for two forms of proposed school choice legislation: vouchers and tax incentives for donations to support attendance at private schools. It also looks at the role that independent school districts play in their communities.

Highlights

  • 61% of Texans support and 39% oppose a policy which would provide low-income Texas parents with tax-funded vouchers that they can use to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools of their choice.
  • 53% of Texans support and 47% oppose a policy which would provide tax-funded vouchers for all parents in Texas, which they can use to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools of their choice.
  • 53% of Texans support and 47% oppose a policy which would provide low-income Texas parents in populous urban counties (1 million plus) with tax-funded vouchers that they can use to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools of their choice.
  • 65% of Texans support and 35% oppose the provision of state tax credits for individual and corporate donations to help low-income Texas parents send their children to private or religious schools.
  • 61% of Texans support the provision of state tax credits for individual and corporate donations to help all Texas parents send their children to private or religious schools.
  • 52% of Texans in rural counties, 43% in urban counties and 39% in suburban counties believe their ISD is very important to their local community’s identity.
  • 46% of Texans in rural counties, 38% in urban counties and 35% in suburban counties believe their ISD is very important to their local community’s sense of togetherness.
  • 44% of Texans in urban counties, 36% in rural counties and 34% in suburban counties believe their ISD is very important to their local community’s economic well-being.
  • 45% of Texans in urban counties, 44% in rural counties and 39% in suburban counties believe their ISD is very important to their local community’s ability to attract and retain residents.

Read Report Three to learn more about where Texans stand on these proposed education items, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release Jan. 30, 2023

 

Report Four. Culture Wars

This report explores public opinion about various policy issues often considered part of the political culture wars.

Highlights

  • 65% of Texans support legislation that would prohibit changing the sex on a minor’s birth certificate unless a clerical error had been made or the minor had atypical or ambiguous sex organs at birth.
  • More than half (57%) of Texans support legislation that would classify as child abuse any gender-affirming care sought by parents from medical or mental health professionals.
  • 62% support repealing the provision of the Texas Constitution that says marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman.
  • More than half of Texans (55%) support removing Confederate Heroes Day as an official state holiday.
  • 67% support legislation that would require every Texas school district to offer ethnic studies, including Mexican American Studies or African American Studies, as part of the required curriculum.
  • 69% support requiring parental approval for any sexuality instruction their children receive in public schools.
  • 71% support requiring publishers selling books to Texas public schools to include a content rating similar to that used for movies.

Read Report Four to learn more about where Texans stand on these proposed legislative items, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release Feb. 1, 2023

 

Report Five. Marijuana

This report examines Texans’ opinions about specific proposed legislation regarding the easing of state restrictions on both the medical and recreational use of marijuana and personal views about the use of marijuana among adults. Additionally, the report discusses opinions about the impact of marijuana legalization on government revenue and the likelihood of its and other drug usage.

Highlights

  • 82% of Texans support legislation that would make the use of marijuana legal for a wide range of medical purposes with a prescription, with 56% strongly in support of medical marijuana.
  • 81% of Texans support legislation that would make the penalty for the possession of small amounts of marijuana a citation (similar to a traffic ticket), with 49% strongly in support of the decriminalization of marijuana.
  • 67% of Texans support legislation that would make the recreational use of marijuana for any purpose legal for those age 21 and older, with 47% strongly in support of legalization.
Graph image- Support for and opposition to the expansion of medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of marijuana in Texas.
  • When asked about preferences regarding the sale and use of marijuana in Texas, 54% support legalization for medical and recreational use; 28% support legalization for medical use only; and 18% of Texans prefer the status quo under which marijuana use for either recreational or medical purposes is illegal in the state.
  • 66% of Texans believe that the legalization of marijuana would be good for state and local government revenue, in contrast to 16% who believe it would be bad. 18% are of the position that the legalization of marijuana in Texas would not have an effect on state and local government revenue.
  • 40% of Texans believe that the legalization of marijuana in Texas would increase the use of marijuana by those under the age of 21, compared to 15% who believe it would decrease underage marijuana use, and 45% who believe that legalization would not have an effect on underage marijuana use.
  • 30% of Texans believe that the legalization of marijuana would make people more likely to use other illegal drugs, 30% believe legalization would make people less likely to use other illegal drugs, and 40% of Texans do not believe that legalization would have any effect on the likelihood of people using other illegal drugs.

Read Report Five to learn more about where Texans stand on these proposed legislative items, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release Feb. 2, 2023

 

Research Team

Renée Cross, Senior Executive Director & Researcher, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Mark P. Jones, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy's Fellow in Political Science, Rice University; Senior Research Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs 

Maria P. Perez Argüelles, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Savannah Sipole, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Agustín Vallejo, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs