OUR NUMBER’S UP

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

How many U.S. presidents were born in Texas? How many people watched last season’s Texas top high school football final? How much is our gas tax? Not sure? Then let’s take a stroll down Texas’ Numerical Lane. We begin with 10.6 years — the average length of stay on our death row. Although Wendy Davis got wide publicity for her senate filibuster, Texas ranks 33rd for its percentage of female legislators. Women make up more than half the state, but only 21 percent of the 181 state legislators who served last year were women, down from 24 percent in 2009.

You know those foam hands with the index finger sticking up at sporting events proclaiming, “We’re Number 1.” They were invented by a San Antonio company and are manufactured at a plant in Montgomery. Their biggest problem is pirates turning out their own version. So far the creators and makers have filed eight lawsuits against copycats, and won them all. Seven: The number of Texas Aggies who have received the Medal of Honor. Soon it will be eight when Clarence E. Sasser (1969, Vietnam), who subsequently attended Texas A&M, joins them. Moving on: $2.75 million — The amount UT-Austin paid to buy out fired head football coach Mack Brown. He also got a one-time payment of $500,000 as “special assistant” to the university president, although no one knows exactly what that entails.

1720. That was the year the Spanish government maintained more soldiers in San Antonio than had been employed throughout the conquest and subjugation of the Aztec and Inca empires. Dallas/Fort Worth has more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the nation. A new study from the Center for an Urban Future estimates it takes $123,322 in Manhattan to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston.

In 2009, Texas oil production made up just 19 percent of the total U.S. oil production. It now makes up 36 percent. A big part of Texas oil production – about 31 percent – comes from the Eagle Ford. Texas produces more oil today than Nigeria and it’s only 200,000 barrels per day less than Venezuela, another major oil producer. If Texas were a country, it would be the world’s 12th-largest producer. On the other hand, Texans are Number One in consuming the most energy in the nation both in per capita and as a whole, and are Most Wanted by the EPA. The EPA’s compliance for ozone, or smog, standard is 75 parts per billion. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are 87. This brings us to  28 and 17. The 28 is the number of times Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued the Obama administration, and at least 17 of those suits were against the EPA in Abbott’s opposition to cleaner air rules. Our grandchildren will thank him, if they live that long.

Who was that mosque man? 1.7 percent of Texans are Islamic, which is twice the national average of Islamic population. Texas’ total headcount stood at more than 25 million residents in the 2010 U.S. Census, as the state population increased 20.6 percent since 2000. Much of the growth in the past decade was due to increases in our Hispanic population. They accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ growth between 2000-2010, and, today, make up nearly 38 percent of our population. That’s up from 32 percent at the end of the 1990s. And while Texas as a whole is growing rapidly, 96 counties lost population from 2010 to 2012. They were mostly in West Texas and the Panhandle.

As of the 2013 estimate, there were 26,059,203 people living in Texas, but it’s still early in the day. That breaks down to 8.97 million households, 16.39 million of us are age 25 and up, 81.4 percent graduated from high school, only 26.7 percent have a college degree — bachelor’s and above. We have 1.6 million veterans, and 14 percent of families are under the poverty level.

One explanation for our population growth (and high poverty rate) is that more than half of the births in Texas are paid for by Medicaid. Let me explain the connection: That Medicaid number has grown in recent years, topping the 50 percent mark in 2006 and every year since. With the huge legislative cutbacks in women’s health care and Planned Parenthood, we can expect those Medicaid bills, which we pay, also to jump. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates that the Legislature’s cuts will result in 23,760 additional births among low-income women in 2014-15. The additional cost to taxpayers could be as high as $273 million. You like higher taxes? Thanks, Texas legislators.

            Texans pay 20 cents per gallon in state gasoline taxes on top of the 18.4 cent federal taxes. Californians pay more than 52 cents per gallon in state and local taxes and fees. Small and midsize farms and ranches in Texas — those under 2,000 acres — have been declining by 250,000 acres a year, apparently to make room for new houses. From 1997 to 2007, Texas lost about 1.5 million acres of agricultural land and is expected to lose a million more by 2020. It may seem to out-of-staters that Texans have taken over the Oval Office in recent decades from Lyndon B. Johnson to George W. (Can Ted Cruz be far behind?) But only two of them were actually born in Texas, Dwight Eisenhower and LBJ. Ike thought he was born in Kansas, even stated so on his West Point ‘pointment. He was a five-star general commanding Allied forces when he received a letter from a woman in Denton who remembered babysitting him there. The Bushes senior and junior are from New England.

Finally, about our Friday Night Rites: The Class 5A Division I state championship between Allen and Pearland last December drew 54,347 fans to AT&T Stadium, setting a new state attendance record. That was bigger than 21 different college bowl games last season.

 

Ashby is counted at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

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