The Texas Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness wrapped up their work last week after hearing testimony from over 30 witnesses about how to drive Texas job growth in the years and decades ahead.
The Alamo was the battleground for Texas independence. During that battle, Col. William Travis famously hung a sign on a cannon that challenged the Mexican army to: “Come and Take It”
OK so they won that battle but the Texians endured to win the war.
Texas has led the country in job creation for much of the last 2 decades and judging by the testimony, Texas leaders are not ready cede that leadership role.
Witnesses included top Texas business leaders from industries like oil and gas, utilities, transportation, technology, higher education, as well as our elected leadership and state officials.
The overriding sentiment: with global economic leadership at stake, education and workforce development are more critical than ever.
The Texas 2050 Coalition of major business groups and Chambers of Commerce has been working closely with the Committee and offered the following recommendations:
1) Align public education with the workforce needs of Texas employers.
- Provide students with multiple pathways to participate in a modern and evolving Texas economy and ensure that Texas students have pathways to high-growth STEM areas, graduate careers and college- readiness programs.
- Address the shortage of qualified computer science, science, and math teachers leveraging model programs such as U-Teach.
- Develop a sustainable pipeline of talent and expand access to computer science and computational thinking skills development in K -12.
2) Maintain a Rational Tax System
- Texas’ lack of a personal income tax—one of only seven states without one—is a positive for entrepreneurial investment, small business, and corporate headquarters;
- However, our heavy reliance on property and sales taxes in particular penalizes capital-intensive investment making Texas a higher tax cost state than our competitors;
- Incentive programs—in particular, property tax abatements and the Enterprise Fund—are important to attract major job projects.
3) Maintain and Enhance Strategic Infrastructure
- To remain competitive, Texas needs to increase and improve our infrastructure capacity – roads, energy, water, and broadband – to pave the way for smart cities and a growing population. The Legislature should champion policies that:
- Support public-private partnerships to add infrastructure capacity more quickly.
- Encourage state and regional investment in key infrastructure for the 21st Century, facilitating access to talent, technology, capital and know-how.
The Committee is expected to issue their report in early January.
Texas’ success in economic development and job creation did not happen by accident.
For the last two decades, Texas lawmakers have created a policy and regulatory climate built for competition and growth. In turn, the entrepreneurial spirit of our innovators has flourished.
Texas should embrace regulatory policy that protects consumers and the environment without placing unnecessary strain on economic activity; stability and certainty are important for job growth.
Now is not the time to retrench when it comes to economic growth.
As the Committee heard from citizens across the state .. if Texas can strike a balance between business and policy that encourages innovation and fosters respect, we will to continue to lead the country in job creation and quality of life.