Skip to comments.Immigration and Texas' Budget Crisis: The Elephant in the Room
Posted on 12/30/2002 5:37:04 AM PST by SJackson
The coming session of the Texas Legislature has been billed as "the perfect storm" because of the looming $5 to $12 billion-dollar budget shortfall. Although the evidence suggests that immigration, both legal and illegal, is fueling the rapid growth in state spending on social services, this issue is almost entirely absent from the debate.
It is well established that recent immigrants use more in services than they pay in taxes, particularly to state and local governments. The National Research Council, a branch of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, estimates the net fiscal cost of immigration ranges from $11 billion to $22 billion per year, with most government expenditures on immigrants coming from state and local coffers, while most taxes paid by immigrants go to the federal treasury. This is the result of the relatively low level of tax payments by immigrants, because they are disproportionately low-skilled and thus earn low wages, and a higher rate of consumption of government services, both because of their relative poverty and their higher fertility.
According to 2000 U.S. Census data, some 13.2 percent of immigrants enroll in welfare programs compared with 2.1 percent of native-born Americans. In Medicaid, 18.6 percent of immigrants participate, as opposite 12.1 percent of native-born. Mexican immigrants, who comprise the vast majority of immigrants to Texas, use food stamps at nearly twice the rate of native-born Americans and collect an average welfare payment that is 20 percent higher than those recipients.
The National Research Council found that in California, which has endured a similar flood of Mexican immigration as Texas, each native household is paying about $1,178 a year in state and local taxes to cover the gap between the services used by immigrant households and their tax receipts. Although Texas was not included in this study, there is no reason to think the reality is any different here.
Indeed, during the last three years, the Harris County Hospital District alone spent $330 million to treat and immunize illegal immigrants, estimated to be at least 20 percent of their indigent caseload. The District covers this expense through its escalating tax burden on local taxpayers and through cost-shifting to Medicaid and insured patients. The District provides not only emergency care to illegal immigrants, but also a full range of elective services, even access to its fertility clinic that is not included in the health plan for District employees. While the 700,000 illegal immigrants in Texas are only eligible for welfare if they have worked for at least ten years or received asylum, they receive free health care, food stamps, education, and nearly all other government services.
In 2002, Medicaid represented 22.6% of Texas' budget. That number is expected to increase to 23.7% in 2003 in the wake of an August 19 report by the Health and Human Services Commission concluding that, because of higher-than-planned growth in caseloads, the state's Medicaid and children's health insurance programs will cost $2.4 billion more in the next budget cycle than in the current one. Since 1987, the Texas Medicaid budget has grown 500 percent, due in large part to increased enrollment, much of it undoubtedly the result of immigration.
The growth in state health care spending is just one example of how immigration is contributing to the budget shortfall. All of the school districts in South Texas receive Robin Hood recapture payments. Although these districts would likely be poor regardless of current levels of immigration, they would not be experiencing such large growth in their enrollments. It is this growth that is responsible for the budget crises in both urban and suburban districts that are being forced to send more and more of their local tax revenues to the state, leaving them unable to meet the needs of their own students.
Immigration is also a major factor in the population growth that is responsible for growing traffic congestion and pollution in Texas' major cities.
Ultimately, the Legislature's sensitivity to public opinion is likely to forestall a general tax increase this session, but that may come at the expense of vital funding for transportation and higher education, as well as Robin Hood relief. Unfortunately, even though the state bears most of the cost of immigration, it is virtually powerless to control it because it is the constitutional responsibility of the federal government.
Until Washington fortifies border enforcement to stop illegal immigration and reduces the number of unskilled legal immigrants, Texans will pay for the consequences, whether in higher taxes or the crowding out of important government services. While immigrants continue to contribute much to Texas and the nation, if we attempt to absorb all of the many millions of indigent people throughout the world, we will sacrifice the very quality of life that has led so many people to come here.
Chris Allen is State Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas (www.yct.org) and a graduate student at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
What about the above paragraph doesn't indicate to you that illegals are costing you, and all of us, huge portions of our tax money? These statistics are similar to those from the Center for Immigration Studies who also estimate that every illegal takes $55,200 more from the system than they contribute.
(Notice the article never uses the word "Hispanic"; instead, "immigrant" is code for Hispanic.)
Maybe this is due to the fact that the author, as are most people, is as not concerned where the illegals come from, but is more concerned that taxpayers money is being spent on those who break and enter into our country. It doesnt matter if the illegal is from Mexico, Canada, or Sweden, but the fact that they are law breakers who leach of the American taxpayer through the use of social services should be of concern to you and every law-abiding taxpayer. They then have the unmitigated gall to turn around and call the American citizen a racist to even suggest these law breakers should be sent home.
immigrants are more than likely a net PLUS for the Texas economy.
Where are your statistics for this, or is this merely your own feel-good opinion? The above article, numerous CIS researched reports and numerous other articles have statistics and researched studies that prove otherwise.
But the notions expressed and hinted at in this article should be passionately rejected.
What notions are those? If you are referring to the fact that all illegals who break and enter into America, whose first act of coming to this country is a criminal act, who suck a the teat of the American taxpayer through social services, who threaten American citizens living on the border, should all be sent back to where they came from, then these notions should be passionately supported, not rejected.
No. The article stated "Immigrants", both legal and illegal. Just because you wish to believe that the word "immigrant" is some type of code word for "Hispanic" is your own problem.
Yes the majority of immigrants are Hispanic, and Hispanics are more likely to use the welfare system, the article and study are speaking of all immigrants, not just Hispanics, as you wish to believe. All immigrants, both legal and illegal use the welfare system, but illegal "Hispanics" use it more than others.
As B4 stated, the majority of illegal Hispanics send their cash back to Mexico. Over 90% of Mexico's Gross National Product, comes from cash sent home by it's legal and illegal immigrants in the US.
There have been many studies done, and all will tell you that illegal immigration is a net lose to our economy, whether it is "Hispanic" illegals or other illegals.
Much less. Low-rent apartment complexes don't pay nearly enough property & school tax to cover the expenses incurred by their tenants in school, medical, road costs, etc.
Wow, if true! Is it really that high, 90%? Seems too high what with Mexico being an oil exporter, a tourista destination, suger cane, and a lot else. But I don't know, just asking.
If it's anywhere near 90% or even over 50%, I can see why Fox will do anything to help his Illegals invade and nothing to stop them.
BTW, it's a very different story on Mexico's southern border. It's protected by deadly military force.
This article is out of the same Trent Lott school of thought that served him so well. Should our borders be respected? Of course. But the notions expressed and hinted at in this article should be passionately rejected.
Are you trying to race bait with that comment?
California relies upon income taxes, which the illegals don't pay, while Texas relies on sales taxes and property taxes, which the illegals DO pay.
Yeah, I know they usually rent, but the landlord pays the property tax - and where do you think he gets the money to do that?
This discussion is wide open with so many points to be made that the result will likely be a tit-for-tat tangled mess.
So allow me to simplify the discussion: immigrant bashing is a moral/political loser. Just ask Pete Wilson. Wasn't he supposed to be president by now, hmmm?
I repeat, any notion that Texas' $5 billion shortfall is due to immigrants should be passionately rejected. Why not just blame senior citizens? They probably cost more and contribute far less; such a notion is equally absurd.
Specious reasoning = bad politics/policy.
So quit blowing smoke up our ass with your "immigrant bashing is a moral/political loser"! A lawbreaker is a lawbreaker everywhere except amongst politicians where they see a potential voter.
Wonderful! It is nice to see our neighbor prosper. Sure beats all the direct foreign aid payments we make to non-NAFTA-neighbors across oceans while recieiving no goods or services in return.
It also pleases me to note that the $13 billion Mexicans sent home was made the American way-- they earned it.
I'm sure Arturo works hard to please your perspective; it's good for his business in your market no doubt. Down here he could just hire those folks looking for honest work without having to call them "wetbacks."
The food would probably be better, too:)
Why do I care what the political fallout would be Im not a politician, just a taxpayer. Besides according to recent polls the vast majority of Americans support both legal & illegal immigration control. Tom Tancredo was overwhelmingly reelected.
You should stick w/ Texas politics, because in CA prop. 187 was passed by 60% of the voters.
You are also incorrect that this is a moral loser. We are a country that adheres to the rule of law. Anyone who supports law breakers is a moral loser, not the other way around.
I repeat, any notion that Texas' $5 billion shortfall is due to immigrants should be passionately rejected.
You have absolutely no facts to backup you claim, while there are irrefutable facts to prove that illegals are costing the taxpayers billions of dollars, not to mention posing a huge security risk. (Right now the FBI is looking for 19 possible terrorists who are illegals.)
Breaking the law to enter the country is NOT the American way.
I doubt if most of these illegals earned their money the American way either. Most probably worked off the books, paid no social security taxes, no income taxes, no state taxes... Because they are willing to work for sub-minimum wages, no benefits and little recourse to their employer, they depress the wage rate for legal American workers. Why do you think businesses want to hire illegals - they are cheaper, they have no benefits & they can be fired for virtually no reason w/ little legal liability.