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Enterprise Fund bill passes Senate despite opposition

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX – Legislation creating the Texas Enterprise Fund as a means of boosting economic development and increasing jobs was passed from the Texas Senate Monday.

Sen. Kim Brimer's (R-Fort Worth) SB 1771 creates the fund as an account in the state's general revenue fund and provides for economic and community development, job training and business incentives. Such incentives are responsible, said Brimer, for success stories such as the recent announcement that Toyota plans to build a plant in San Antonio. Incentives plus funding for improving infrastructure are among the issues the Texas Enterprise Fund would address.

The governor's Office of Economic Development, which would assume the duties of the Texas Department of Economic Development that is scheduled for sunset under other legislation previously passed, would work with state government entities as well as local government entities. Those entities, such as counties and even school districts, would formulate incentives to encourage business and industry to locate in Texas.

The bill was passed out of the Senate, but not before Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) had his say.

Ogden argued that incentives such as these are not the way to develop the state's economy or create jobs. He pointed out that the State Constitution states that all taxes should be "equal and just," and offering incentives that include lower taxes for certain businesses and industry violates that provision.

He said the incentives are nothing more than a "system of government subsidies for special assistance."

"I do not think that's the way to develop the state's economy and create jobs," said Ogden. Rather, he noted that if the state will work on keeping taxes low, fixing the state's criminal justice system and improving the state's schools, "people will beat a path to Texas." He said Texas would become a "beacon" state for business and industry.

Brimer again pointed out that the incentives addressed in the legislation are exactly what brought the Toyota plant to San Antonio and urged members to support his bill. The bill was passed from the Senate and now goes to the House.