Where We Rank

First in executions, last in the percentage of low-income children with health insurance— that much we knew. But how Texas compares with the rest of the country in a whole host of other areas may surprise you. It sure surprised us.

This spring, Democratic state senator Eliot Shapleigh, of El Paso, distributed the second edition of “Texas on the Brink,” a pamphlet detailing how the second-largest state compares with the other 49 in education, health, crime, and other measurable areas of public life. Shapleigh writes in the introduction that Texas must “make the necessary and critical investment” in public services and warns that “our state is at a crossroads.” At least that crossroads is familiar territory: Shapleigh’s portrayal of a state government that taxes and spends at a low level is hard to dispute, but it is not exactly new. It was as true fifty years ago, when Texas was a Democratic state and “a good business climate” was the mantra of state leaders, as it is today, when Texas is a Republican state whose watchword is “economic development.” The rankings below, drawn from Shapleigh’s report, say a lot about the choices we’ve made, and they’re certain to fuel the ongoing argument over whether those choices

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