Updated 12/13/2012 10:53 AM
Lawmakers work to strengthen state economy with incentives
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With a looming deficit, fostering a strong business climate will be a topic of discussion this legislative session.
In an effort to develop and maintain a strong economy, law makers are evaluating how they bring business to the Lone Star State.
However, the moves to attract business to the state start deep underneath the Texas Capitol. During the select committee on economic development meeting Wednesday, lawmakers worked with experts trying to find a way to track how effective the state incentives really are.
"We don't want to take a step back we want to make sure that our programs are effective and efficient and transparent and measurable and the keep us competitive with the other states," Brint Ryan with the Select Committee on Economic Development said.
With the legislative session around the corner, the committee plans to recommend what incentives stay and which need altering.
"The single biggest barrier when it comes to companies relocating to Texas is our high property taxes," Dale Craymer with the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association said.
Among many programs, the state allows school districts, cities and counties to temporarily abate property taxes, which is set to expire this session.
"If Texas does not re-authorize that program we will have ultimately disarmed ourselves in a time when other states are becoming much more aggressive in going after these projects," Craymer said.
While ‘incentive’ is the preferred term, lawmakers acknowledge they are dealing with a PR Problem--battling a negative connotation, words like ‘loophole,’ or ‘cooperate gift.’
"This is not a gift, this is not even close to a gift,” State Sen. Florence Shapiro said. “They have to perform they have to give us what they say they are going to give us."
In an effort prove the success of the programs Sen. Shapiro, among others, wants the pay-off of the incentives substantiated through numbers.
"Each of these programs have some value, there is no question about it, but if the public begins to believe that they are being done in a different way and there is not a value, then the lege is going to respond to that," Sen. Shapiro said.
Lawmakers are also racing against other states and are comparing incentive programs.
The Select Committee on Economic Development will make a final recommendation to the legislature.