Hidalgo County judge shares prosperity task force mission with state council

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez speaks Sunday, March 22, 2020, during a Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meeting in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez shared the concept of the newly formed Prosperity Task Force with a state organization espousing the same mission.

“We cannot have our welfare lines growing faster than our taxpayer lines,” Cortez told the Texas Family Leadership Council during a teleconference meeting on Thursday. “If we don’t tackle this problem that is affecting Hidalgo County, then Texas is going to have many more problems in the future.”

The Texas Family Leadership Council, or TXFLC, is made up of child and family focused organizations, community leaders and influencers from across the state. Their purpose is to improve the quality of life for Texas children by sharing best practices, information and resources.

“TXFLC working groups tackle the most pressing issues facing families in our state by evaluating policy solutions and developing a united advocacy agenda,” according to their website.

As a leader of the 8th most populated county in Texas, Cortez discussed challenges faced by a disproportionate share of people living in poverty due to a combination of social conditions like language barriers, education and immigration status.

“That’s why we created the Prosperity Task Force,” Cortez said in a news release. “We wanted a way to analyze and review the complex issues of poverty.”

The task force was formed of 13 subgroups last year and brought together about 160 community leaders and policymakers to help mitigate the effects of poverty by providing vocational training and education as a way to provide more opportunities to low-income residents.

Some of those opportunities will be in the form of social services, access to training career counselors and mentoring people undergoing job training to increase the capacity of higher paying jobs in Hidalgo County.

“The way to help a disabled elderly veteran, Cortez said, is to find the appropriate services that are available to them and put those services to use,” the news release stated. “At the same time, people on the front lines of helping the impoverished must be trained to assess those constituents needing help and identify potential training programs to create what Cortez calls ‘human capital’ that can escape poverty by learning skills for better paying jobs.”

“This is what our group is all about,” Kevin Hatterly, Family Leadership Council member who heads the Boys and Girls Club of Houston, said on Thursday while thanking the judge. “It’s about hearing best practices.”