Texans willing to pay more school tax, expand Medicaid - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Texans willing to pay more school tax, expand Medicaid

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Taking the pulse of Texas can be tricky, especially with lot of folks from all over steadily merging into the Lone Star mix.

With its highly regarded poll, the non-partisan Texas Lyceum has done an admirable job of drawing a bead on some intriguing, fundamental trends.

Like education, where the survey found 74 percent, nearly three quarters, of normally tight-fisted Texans would accept new taxes to raise teacher salaries, buy new technology, and build new schools as long as none of the funding found its way to school administration.

"It is a wonderfully optimistic finding," said former University of Houston Education Dean Bob Wimpelberg, who is now leading the "All Kids Alliance".  "I think more and more of the public is connecting education to economics.  The question is how do we get out of the hole that we are in?  We need some good fiscal policies but long term, it's really about education and I think people are getting it."
Then there's health care where to no one's surprise, a majority of citizens in this conservative state oppose what's become known as "Obama Care".  But what the Lyceum survey has detected is an underlying trend, that is, better than half of Texans figure if the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, it makes sense to accept billions of dollars from Washington for the expansion of Medicaid.

University of Houston Law professor Seth Chandler has crunched the numbers and believes by expanding Medicaid, Texas can provide health coverage for close to one million of its currently uninsured.

"It's a pretty good deal.  For a relatively small amount of Texas tax dollars we get a huge inflow of federal tax dollars which will reduces the number of uninsureds in Texas and lead to less crowding of emergency rooms," said Chandler.

Of course, Governor Rick Perry has pledged to block Medicaid expansion, a policy that may deepen his current unpopularity around much of the state.  The Lyceum survey found only 18 percent of voters said they were certain to vote for Perry if he seeks another term.

"We see a large group of republican voters who like Rick Perry and think he's done a good job, but believe it's time for him to go," said Mark Jones, Chairman of Political Science at Rice University.

The Lyceum poll also looked at childhood obesity which most Texans blamed on two factors: parents not controlling what their kids eat and amusement technology like video games.

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