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Growing population paves way for change

Jan. 23, 2001

Because of Texas' population surge in the 1990s, the state will most likely gain two additional seats in the U. S. House of Representatives when the U. S. Census results are published in two weeks. These additional seats will give Texas the second-largest representation in Congress, behind California. Our lawmakers should use this new clout to help bring improvements to some of the state's sore spots and make sure that, as our state's population continues to grow, all 20 million Texas residents will have an excellent quality of life.

The issues that need the most attention are education, healthcare and the environment. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Texas ranks in the bottom half of the states in the number of families that are provided health insurance. Our schools' dropout rate is among the highest of all states, while our average SAT scores, graduation rates and teachers' pay are in the bottom half. The Environmental Protection Agency ranks Houston as the most polluted city in the nation, and Texas the most polluted state. As a result, water quality in certain parts of the state is extremely poor.

Many of these problems are the worst in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods where population is growing the fastest, making living conditions sometimes horrendous in these parts of the state. Texas is a great state, but unless our political leaders work to find a way to improve the quality of our environment, health care and education systems, they are letting down all of us.