Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation announced the Alliance for Opportunity campaign’s Liberty Action Agenda items in anticipation of the 88th Legislative Session set to convene in January 2023. This campaign will be working to enact public policy solutions that promote human dignity, fruitful purpose, and self-sufficiency for every Texan. In addition to reforms within the Lone Star State, TPPF’s Alliance for Opportunity team will be working directly with our allies at the Pelican Institute in Louisiana and the Georgia Center for Opportunity to reduce dependency on government safety net programs and create model legislation for all states to make meaningful strides towards reducing poverty and increasing prosperity for every American.

“Ronald Reagan was right when he said, ‘I believe the best social program is a job,’” said TPPF’s Chief Economist and Policy Director for the Alliance for Opportunity campaign Vance Ginn. “We need more opportunities for people to receive an education, training, and a job. That’s done by removing obstacles, mostly from government. The Alliance for Opportunity campaign is working to move people off government dependency onto a path toward self-sufficiency, hope, community, and restorative justice.”

TPPF’s Alliance for Opportunity Liberty Action Agenda priorities are:

Keeping Vulnerable Texans on Track to Self-Sufficiency

  • Conduct independent state agency efficiency audits. Independent efficiency audits are in-depth investigations that determine whether taxpayer dollars spent by an agency are achieving desired outcomes. Texas should require that every state agency undergo a regular efficiency audit to improve services provided to Texans while reducing waste and saving taxpayer dollars.
  • Rely on community-based organizations for safety-net program case management. Government-run safety net programs isolate and overshadow productive and successful community support systems for those in need. Texas should decentralize the current government-run system that lacks incentives to achieve successful outcomes and move responsibility for providing individualized case management services to community-based nonprofit organizations.
  • Create an empowerment account pilot program. Safety net programs are designed to make recipients dependent on government benefits and do nothing to help the vulnerable take steps to become self-sufficient. Alternatively, Texas should pursue an empowerment account pilot program (similar to a Health Savings Account) to provide funding for approved items and help develop good financial habits. Recipients would have access to community-based case managers, financial literacy tools, and opportunities to improve their situation through work, training, or education and savings.

Ensure Texans Have the Right to Earn a Living

  • Improve data collection to align career skills with employer needs. Texas should encourage employers to voluntarily help improve unemployment data reporting to the state so policymakers and the marketplace can better align career and technical education and workforce training to the needs of Texas’ employers.
  • Approve paid apprenticeships and work-based learning. Apprenticeships are a proven pathway to success in many professions and can help many students discover their unique gifts. Texas should expand access to career and technical education for high school students, which will provide them with in-demand skills for high-wage professions, whether they plan to attend college after graduation or not.

Remove Barriers for Texans to Gain Dignity From Work

  • Make occupational licensing reasonable. Already-skilled workers should not have to require a permission slip to work. Texas should ensure that having a degree, training, or skill set is sufficient to let the public decide which service providers to choose.
  • Expedite driver’s licenses for the formerly incarcerated. When exiting incarceration, an expired driver’s license is a significant barrier to earning gainful employment, particularly in rural communities that lack robust public transportation systems. By removing unnecessary restrictions from the driver’s license renewal process, Texas can help these individuals achieve successful re-entry, promote stability, and decrease long-term government dependence.
  • Approve waivers to spur innovation and economic growth. Some state regulations have proven ineffective at their stated purpose of protecting the public and serve mostly to restrict economic innovation and participation in the marketplace. Texas should approve programs, sometimes referred to as a “regulatory sandbox,” that waive the customary burdensome rules to promote the entrepreneurial spirit for creating new ideas, products, and business models.

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