A fact-check guide to Texas' Tuesday primaries

Three newspapers are newly partnered to drive PolitiFact Texas: the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News
Three newspapers are newly partnered to drive PolitiFact Texas: the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News

From checking on school spending and classroom instruction to whether abortions kill the most black Americans, we learned a great deal while researching fact-checks in advance of Tuesday's Texas party primaries.

Generally, a study says, Texas schools ranked 41st nationally heading into 2017. But Texas lately ranks fifth nationally for its high-school graduation rate--though it’s 20th by an alternative metric.

As to what's happening in classrooms, a study shows that many Texas schools limit sex education to an emphasis on abstinence. Yet it’s a stretch to say that a large number of schools don’t offer sex education.

About those students: A federal survey suggests that less than half of youthful Americans were registered to vote. But more recent Texas data suggest the state’s youth registration rate exceeds 50 percent.

The state’s share of public school aid has slid since the 1980s, we confirmed, but not by 50 percentage points contrary to a claim by Scott Milder, a Republican challenger to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate, called last year for lawmakers to require school districts to spend more of their local budgets on teacher salaries. However, Patrick's directive didn’t make it into a legislative proposal. 

Retired Texas teachers, meantime, now have access to fewer health plans and most retirees face greater health costs. But conditions could have been worse, we found, absent bipartisan action in 2017.

Some 52 percent of the state’s new teachers got certified in 2016-17 through alternative certification--and not by completing undergraduate education programs.

The Texas Department of Agriculture took a month to alert possible victims of a computer hack, as charged by Trey Blocker, a Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner. However, the agency says it's found no evidence that the hack led to personal information getting stolen and exploited.

Unauthorized immigrants account for less crime than other U.S. residents, but we didn’t find backup for the 1.6 percent figure aired by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez. Similarly, we pinned no factual basis for Patrick’s claim on Facebook that 566,000 crimes were "made in Texas by criminal aliens in the last 6 years." Light a match.

A flip-flop: Democratic U.S. Senate Beto O’Rourke favored requiring young Americans to perform public service. He no longer does.

Another flip-flop: Republican Sen. Ted Cruz favored requiring 60 Senate votes to end a filibuster. He no longer does.

Across income groups, not every American taxpayer will see lower taxes due to the Republican-authored overhaul of tax laws. Contrary to a Cruz claim, it’s not just wealthy residents of Manhattan and San Francisco who’ll pay more than before.

As of December, the state’s effort to help homeowners after Hurricane Harvey had led to just two finished home repairs, as declared by Jerry Patterson, a Republican hoping to return as state land commissioner. Yet we found that this count oversimplified outreach overseen by Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

Bush, we confirmed, served about 10 years in the Navy Reserve. He wasn’t in long enough to become a retired Navy officer.

Finally, abortions are not the leading cause of death for black Americans. A key agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doesn’t consider the abortion procedure a cause of death.

What else?