Demographics change shows Latinos are quickly becoming majority
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The state of Texas is growing faster than any other state, and with that growth comes several challenges. It takes a lot of money to accommodate that growth.
The Texas Tribune, a non-profit media organization based out of Austin, organized a symposium at UTEP Thursday with local and state leaders to discuss what the priorities are.
Some of the major topics discussed included funding for public education and healthcare. At the core of those issues is the growing number of Latinos in Texas.
"We're moving toward a Hispanic majority in the state of Texas, which has all kinds of opportunities and all kinds of challenges," said Evan Smith, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune.
Smith moderated the panel discussions at the symposium and said the goal is to inform Latinos about the issues that impact them directly, and involve them in the political process.
However, George Atuna, Co-Founder of Hispanics of Texas said engaging Latinos in politics has been a challenge in the past.
"What I sense is a large sense if distrust among the Latino community of our elected officials," said Atuna. He said much of that distrust can be attributed to public corruption at the state and local level.
"We need to make sure that were addressing the needs of Latinos, especially on the education component and the healthcare component," said Atuna.
When it comes to public education, Atuna said there is a 50-percent high school drop-out rate among Latinos in Texas. He said that should be alarming to both Democrats and Republicans.
The healthcare discussion focused on Medicaid expansion to relieve the burden on taxpayers.
"Local taxpayers are paying for those individuals that cannot access preventative care and it becomes catastrophic, Then they're in our emergency rooms and the cost of care is probably 5-6 times what it would've been had they had access to a clinic to find that preventative care," said State Representative Marisa Marquez, (D-District 77).
Marquez said it is important to address why healthcare providers are choosing not to participate in Medicaid and CHIP programs, and to create policies to make that process easier.