Texans under 30 most concerned with inflation, cost of living for legislative session, poll finds

Kylee Howard, Senior News Reporter

A recent Texas Politics Project poll shows the majority of Texans under 30 believe the state legislature should focus on addressing inflation and the increasing cost of living, while the overall majority of Texans are worried about border security and immigration.

Eleven percent of Texans aged between 18 to 29 said inflation and cost of living should be top priorities for the state legislature — a sentiment only 8% of total participants agree with — followed by gun safety and control. Twenty four percent of participants believe the top priority should be border security and immigration. 

“What’s really interesting about inflation is (that it is) a very unique economic phenomenon,” said Joshua Blank, research director at Texas Politics Project. “There’s no easy exit (from) inflation.”

Blank said the cost of living affects young Texans daily and more so than older generations. 

“They just generally have less money available to them than do older voters,” Blank said. ”The increased cost of goods and services is felt at a greater level.”

College Republicans, a conservative student organization on campus, said in an email that President Joe Biden’s fiscal policy is to blame for the financial issues Texans face. But, Blank said the president doesn’t have enough power to directly ease inflation. 

“The current financial situation that we’re in is a reflection of a number of factors that have all contributed over the course of a handful of years,” Blank said. “There’s a bunch of factors (that) have increased the demand for various goods and services.”

Brian Pena, vice president of University Democrats, said students are especially affected given rising rent, tuition, groceries and gas costs. 

“There’s no one place to point a finger as to why that’s happening, but it is happening,” said Pena, a business and government sophomore. “We have to acknowledge that, but students are feeling the brunt of it, especially when it comes to housing.” 

Rob Warnock, senior research associate of Apartment List, told KXAN that West Campus rent prices are $100 to $200 more expensive than the city average based on listing prices. The neighborhood remains the most densely populated in Austin.

“The 88th Legislature can act to protect and expand Texas’ crucial oil and gas industry, promote efforts to support the Texas economy and should use the record budget surplus to cut property taxes,” a College Republican representative said in an email. 

The legislature has the ability to cut property taxes but efforts to directly cut the cost of housing are typically left to local jurisdictions.

“I don’t really think the legislature actually has the ability to address (inflation),” Blank said. “It’s something that requires some sort of mixture of fiscal and monetary policy that the state doesn’t really engage in.” 

On Monday, the Texas Senate approved a proposed budget that sets aside $16.5 billion to reduce property taxes, though some lawmakers say this allocation doesn’t address all housing concerns. Blank said the legislature cutting property taxes is unlikely to ease housing costs for young renters. 

“Most young Texans, unless they own property, are unlikely to benefit — at least in the near future — from any sort of effort to lower property taxes,” Blank said. 

The Texas House also passed a bill last week, creating a $12 billion property tax relief program. It must pass the Senate and the governor’s desk to become law.

In the meantime, Pena said students can use their vote and support representatives that care about young voter issues, which are growing in number. 

“The (legislature) is something that is really easy to get bogged down in because we know that there are not any immediate solutions to things,” Pena said. “We try to remain optimistic when we know things are trending our way.”