Texas Legislature Reinforces Pillars of "Nation's Strongest Economy"

Energy Costs Contained; Workforce and Economic Development Opportunities Expanded

CONTACT: Gretchen Fox, 512-694-4326

Austin, TX – The Texas Association of Manufacturers (TAM) today applauded the Legislature for ultimately reinforcing the pillars of the “nation’s strongest economy” in a session that at times threatened death by a thousand cuts for the Texas job machine.

“By resisting opportunities to raise taxes, eliminate economic development incentives, and dramatically increase energy costs, Texas lawmakers put Texas jobs first,” said Luke Bellsnyder, executive director of TAM. “At times during the session, Texas job creators were in danger of death by a thousand cuts, but the Legislature pulled through to maintain Texas’ standing as the ‘strongest economy in the nation.’”

Energy prices and sound energy policy are essential to Texas’ economic health, according to Bellsnyder. “Texas’ manufacturers promote and desire diverse electric generation options, including renewable sources. The Legislature made great strides in crafting meaningful incentives – vs. mandates and subsidies – to expand use of renewable energy sources like solar power. While time ran out for these proposals, their work will surely bear fruit in the future as renewable energy policy evolves,” he said. “Lawmakers were wise to reject several renewable mandates, which would have raised energy prices by $205,000 to $700,000 a year for manufacturers. Cost increases of that magnitude cost jobs.”

The Legislature was successful in passing measures to encourage job creation and workforce readiness, two TAM priorities. HB 3676 (Helfin, D- Crosbyton) extends the Texas Economic Development Act (also known as Chapter 313) which allows school districts to offer tax incentives to attract economic development projects. Chapter 313 abatements were part of the economic development packages that attracted the likes of Toyota in San Antonio and Caterpillar in Seguin. “Renewing Chapter 313 allows Texas to maintain its competitive edge in the national and international arena,” said Bellsynder.

The State’s dramatic shortage of qualified workers prompted TAM and others to promote proposals to expand Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs, which combine academic content with practical workplace applications. “We are proud to have helped accomplish a solution for today’s diverse student population that integrates rigor, relevance and real world skills,” said Bellsnyder. “HB 3 (Eissler, R- Woodlands and Shapiro, R- Plano) allows students to take applied math and science courses that meet all required state standards. Enhanced and expanded CTE programs will send students into the workforce ready to tackle today’s high quality manufacturing jobs.”

Despite an aggressive personal injury lawyer effort, the 81st Texas Legislature defeated proposals that would have begun the erosion of Texas tort reforms. These efforts that have been cited by many experts to be the key to Texas ranking as the number one state in the nation for job creation, according to Bellsynder, “One proposal attempted to lower the causation standard so low for mesothelioma cases that many employers would have been forced to settle,” said Bellsnyder. “There is never a good time to redistribute wealth from those who create it to those who spend their time suing employers. Given the current economy, when every state in our nation will be competing to gain or maintain quality jobs, now is absolutely the wrong time to unnecessarily empower trial lawyers to jeopardize jobs.”