September 24, 2003
Perry promotes Texas economy

Our only Governor is up in New York talking up the Texas business climate.

Perry, addressing the Governor's Summit on Economic Development and Tourism, said the trip is part of an "aggressive" new $5 million marketing campaign called Texas One that will be funded by private donations.

"We're showing the nation that Texas truly is wide open for business," Perry said. "When the private sector prospers, this entire state prospers."


Perry said the trip should include some new contacts as well as business people with whom he has relationships.

"I'm real excited about the opportunity to go into other parts of the country and tell a great story about what's happening in Texas," he said.

Perry said Texas' advantages to business include new restrictions on civil lawsuits, a diverse work force and a stand against new taxes despite a year that began with a $10 billion budget gap. He also cited "outstanding" public schools and "our own power grid" valuable in light of last month's massive electrical outage in the Northeast and Midwest.

Whatever. While he's off gallivanting around and fundraising for 2006, Perry might want to check in on the Senate, where a provision in House Bill 7, inserted by Sen. Steve Ogden as part of an effort to weaken the power of the Comptroller's office, is generating stiff opposition from the Texas business community. Here's a bit from the Quorum Report.

[T]here is a buzz saw of business groups fighting a little noticed provision in Senator Steve Ogden's (R-College Station) committee substitute to HB 7. The provision was apparently inserted to punish Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for being a thorn in the side of the legislative leadership.

But in the process of punishing the Comptroller, business groups say that the leadership is also punishing Texas business and the struggling Texas economy. Business groups have shifted into high gear to fight the provision.

Few things unify the business lobby, but this is one of them. They claim that Article 22 in CSHB7 (reprinted below) will cost Texas business at least tens of millions of dollars, render the state tax settlement system into a dysfunctional, chaotic process and create a huge disincentive for any future investment in Texas.

Other than that, the bill is fine.

No one would go on the record because the provision is described as coming from "upper management".

The provision presumes that the tax settlement process is the core of the Comptroller's fundraising ability. By messing with it, they believe that they can neuter her political fundraising and terminate her independence.

The provision gives the Legislative Audit Committee chaired by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick the right to audit any tax settlement from the Comptroller's office in which more than $10,000 is at stake. It also gives them the right to disclose the names of any taxpayers that are in a dispute with the Comptroller's office.

With such intrusivion, the presumption of the business lobby is that the Comptroller will have no incentive to concede even legitimate tax adjustments.

QR has posted a letter (Word doc) signed by the heads of 27 business groups that oppose this provision and were hand-delivered to every Senator's office. One of the signees is Bill Hammond of the Texas Association of Business, the group that's so in bed with Tom DeLay that two of their officers were confined to a courtroom on contempt charges (Hammond was also cited) rather than turn over information about its membership to a grand jury. How embarrassing it must be to be out of state promoting your business climate while a member of your own party is pushing a bill that the business lobby thinks is a disaster.

Ah, well, it could be worse. At least these guys aren't independent contractors.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 24, 2003 to Bidness | TrackBack