When the 83rd Legislature convenes in January, there will be a lot new about its composition, the demographics of Texas, and the key policy issues that must be addressed.
Not only will almost half of the Texas House of Representatives include first or second year members, but with Texas gaining 1,000 new citizens a day the rising population is also stressing our basic infrastructure – energy, water, roads, and education.
Restructuring business taxes to help fund a budget facing increased costs for health care and both public and higher education will also be on the table.
The backdrop is mostly positive; sales tax collections are up and our economy relatively strong. According to many publications, Texas is the best place in America for business. While we’ve become a destination state for companies and families, keeping up with that growth costs money and requires a look at how we stay economically competitive over the long term.
Economic development incentives and their return on investment (ROI) for Texas will also be hotly debated. The Select Committee on Economic Development will make recommendations to the Legislature on the value of programs like the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Emerging Technology Fund, the Texas Economic Development Act, and a myriad of incentives and tax credits across all business sectors.
The 2013 legislative session presents challenges for Texas business and its citizens, and also opportunity for good public policy that prepares the state for the next decade and beyond.
In the meantime, it’s the season to count our blessings — happy holidays to all.