In Your State Capitol with Trent Ashby

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As the lingering summer heat takes what is hopefully its last gasp, early voting is right around the corner, and the first patient with the Ebola virus in the U.S. succumbs in Dallas — here is what else is going on at your State Capitol…

Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives
Accountability, transparency, fiscal responsibility– those are some things that Texans should be able to expect when they pay their hard-earned tax dollars to the state. A recent report by the state auditor’s office showed that those principles were sometimes ignored when it came to the past use of the Texas Enterprise Fund. Created to bolster our economy, promote business in our state and create jobs for Texas residents, the TEF is in need of serious reforms. The audit found incomplete and sometimes non-existent record-keeping, as well as some instances where grant money was awarded to companies that didn’t complete the application requirements. One company that received funding from the TEF does not even operate in Texas. With the recent revelations about the misuse of the TEF, the Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives has even more of a responsibility to demand changes in the way our state government operates with taxpayer dollars. As a member of that committee I can tell you that we are working diligently during this interim to study and question the failures and inefficiencies of incentive programs like the TEF, with the ultimate goal of producing a report that will be considered by the Legislature and hopefully spark much-needed reforms next session. Annual audits, increasing checks and balances, and certainly more oversight of these funds are all crucial elements to maintaining effective incentive programs that accomplish what they were created to do. It’s been proven that some of these programs can have a significant impact on communities in our state, but we have to eliminate the incompetency that has existed in the past. Part of that focus includes ensuring that the rural areas of our state are not overlooked when these programs are A) put into place, and B) begin to function. If we want to be a truly great state, we have to energize and promote the economies of hard-working, rural communities.

House Interim Charges: Committee on Investment and Financial Services
Continuing our look at interim charges for each of the House Committees, this week we focus on the House Committee on Investment and Financial Services. Members of this committee have been charged with reviewing our state’s home equity laws, and making recommendations that ensure Texas consumers have appropriate access to the equity in their homes. The Committee will also review the state’s regulatory and administrative systems related to public school bond issuances, as well as analyze the costs and benefits of implementing an intrastate equity crowd-funding system. Members will examine programs that have been implemented in other states and determine whether a similar system is appropriate in Texas.

As always my staff and I are available during the week at 936-634-2762 and 512-463-0508.

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