The 85th Legislature adjourned after passing a $ 217 B budget to fund state government for the next 2 years.
While a lot of attention was given to the A-F rating system for public schools, the session ended with about a C grade for Texas business.
Important incentive programs to allow Texas to remain competitive came under fire.
The Texas Enterprise Fund – the Governor’s deal-closing fund for major job projects — will have about $90M to spend over the next 2 years, far short of the $ 200 Million the business community wanted.
The Film Incentive program received $ 22M, nowhere near the $ 72M Governor Abbott requested.
In both cases, the House and Senate included virtually no new money for these programs but the Governor stepped in to salvage some funding.
On the issue of infrastructure, we did not take pass a bill to extend local government authority to create public-private partnerships, which some see as a means to get roads, bridges, pipelines and other infrastructure built more quickly.
Some positive news..
The Texas Economic Development Act, or Chapter 313, that allows local governments to abate property taxes to attract jobs to their communities DID survive opposition from some lawmakers.
The fast-growing biotechnology industry passed some important innovation and patient protection measures and helped continue the Texas Cancer Institute for at least 2 more years.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) was authorized to use the Skills Development Fund to help employers expanding or relocating their operations to Texas if they’re offering high-skilled jobs.
In K-12 education.. several bills will promote more intensive computer science training for our students in specialized fields like cybersecurity.
P-Tech, an innovative program that partners K-12, higher education and the business community (companies like Dell are partnering with Austin schools, e.g.) has been approved and signed by Governor Abbott.
A Telemedicine billed passed that will give Texas patients more options for care and should attract medical technology companies to the state.
Oh, and the Legislature created a statewide regulatory framework for ride-sharing companies. Yes Austin – Uber and Lyft are back.
And finally, for more summer fun, Governor Abbott just called the Legislature into special session starting July 18. They will work on property tax relief for homeowners, among a possible 20 total issues.
In the dramatic conclusion to the 85th session, lawmakers almost came to blows on the floor of the House over the issue of immigration. When they return, the Texas business community hopes the fight will be to keep Texas the best place in America for business.