AARO Priority Issues
AARO Priorities and Committees

AARO advances policies to enhance the economic and social well-being of Central Texas by engaging regional leaders in data-driven deliberative action, built on a foundation of data, and shaped by wisdom, vision and dedication to our region's future in five priority areas: Health, Education, Social Equity, Transportation and Water.


Research Focus: Ensure a long-term affordable and sustainable water supply for Central Texas.

  • 1999: Urged the City of Austin and Lower Colorado River Authority leaders to negotiate a 50-year water supply deal which culminated in the $100 million water agreement guaranteeing Austin’s water supply through 2050.
  • 2011: Supported construction of the City of Austin’s Water Treatment Plant #4 as backup support for two aging treatment plants.
  • 2011-present: Co-developed/co-sponsored the annual Central Texas Regional Water Conservation Symposium.

Ahead in 2019

The Water Committee will continue to explore the issue of ensuring an affordable and sustainable water supply for Central Texas. The Committee will also monitor the Region K Water Planning Group’s efforts to initiate the process to determine whether the most recent drought was a drought worse than the drought of record.


The Bold Idea: Reduce the stigma of mental illness in Central Texas

  • 2004: Backed a petition drive to hold the successful referendum creating the Travis County Healthcare District (now Central Health).
  • 2012: Learned about the need for a 4-year academic medical school for the region and Members, acting individually, supported the successful referendum to increase funding for Central Health, which led to the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ahead in 2019

The Health Committee will continue its educational programming on the issues and possible policy solutions to reduce the stigma of mental illness. In addition, the committee will lean into its goal by hosting a luncheon to educate business and thought leaders about the myths and facts of mental and behavioral health disorders and way to responsibly and fairly address the issue in the work place.


Research Focus: Improve education outcomes by addressing teaching quality.

  • 1986: Galvanized business support for the successful referendum on an initial 5-cent property tax to fund Austin Community College.
  • 2006: Conceived and in partnership founded the E3 Alliance.

Ahead in 2019

The P-16 Education Committee will continue to explore issues related to quality teaching and to use its understanding to determine if there is an AARO-appropriate initiative to improve education outcomes through excellence in teaching.

Social Equity
The Bold Idea: Understand institutional racism and systemic inequalities in Central Texas and how they impact AARO issues.

  • 2014: Sponsored research identifying 2,720 annual openings for jobs that pay at least $18/hour and require a one-year certificate or two-year college degree, i.e., positions suitable for graduates of ACC’s Career Accelerator program.
  • 2010-present: Co-authored “Building and Retaining an Affordable Austin,” which led to City of Austin housing bonds and policy changes to increase the city’s affordable housing supply.

Ahead in 2019

The Social Equity Committee’s focus will remain on understanding the institutional racism and systemic inequities that exist and how they impact all issues. AARO is encouraging all AARO members to participate in the Beyond Diversity seminar, sponsored by the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. The Committee aims to move beyond good intentions and deliberately work to cultivate an internal lens to understand the barriers to success for people who are not members of the majority culture.

The Bold Idea: Research feasibility and options for a regional governance model to plan, finance, build and operate all transportation systems serving the 6-county region to more efficiently address long-term regional mobility.

  • 1981: Driving force behind voter approval of the northern and southern extensions of MoPac.
  • 1997: Partnered in winning county commissioner support for right of way acquisition for SH-130.
  • 1997-present: Consistently supported increased funding to provide strategic connections and expansion of the Central Texas roadway system and other multi-modal enhancements to improve regional connectivity and mobility.

Ahead in 2019

The Transportation Committee is continuing its regional governance study and will bring leaders throughout the region together to learn about the issues and consider how changes in transportation governance might make a stronger system for the long-term.

AARO News and Research
AARO’s priority issues are the most important issues facing Central Texas. Stay up to date here.