Governor Greg Abbot released his second report to the people of Texas last week, and there’s good news indeed. A few highlights. About 306,000 new jobs were created in Texas in 2017. We are now the top exporting state, overall, and top technology exporter, which might surprise the Californians.
Our economy is now the tenth largest in the world, and we’ve had 92 consecutive months of job growth. If you think about it, those 92 months represent the last 7.5 years, which saw modest economic growth in the country. What might federal tax reform, which has now lowered the corporate tax rate by 14 points and is putting money in the pockets of consumers, do for Texas business and job growth now? And what if we overlay an infrastructure bill on top of that? Since Texas is also number one in population growth last year, we’ll certainly need more infrastructure. Let the building begin.
Speaking of taxes, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance held its first meeting this month, to develop recommendations on how best to fund the education of 5.3 million Texas students. The commission was created by the legislature in 2017, after the House and Senate couldn’t agree on legislation. They’ll discuss the school finance legal framework, Texas’s student populations, and educational outcomes. Our heavy reliance on property taxes hits both homeowners and Texas companies, particular those that are capital investment intensive, very hard and it will be a hot button topic.
The current school finance system has been the subject of statewide lawsuits for decades. Commission Chairman, Scott [Brewster 00:02:15] who’s a former supreme court justice himself, said this, “the Texas Supreme Court’s opinions of the most recent school finance lawsuit reflect a board agreement that the current system is flawed, as well as substantial disagreement as to what to do about it.”
Governor Abbot said he is betting on the commission’s findings to figure out how to help increase funding for schools, while always calling for a 2.5% annual cap on property tax increases. He said he didn’t know if this plan would negatively affect school district’s ability to raise money, but the state would have to play a role in helping them if it did. Finding a solution for how to balance serving smaller districts with less money and fewer students, with the needs of larger districts with more money and more students won’t be easy. In fact, it’s a problem that’s plagued the Texas school system for a long time. The hope is that lawmakers can agree on legislation that will stabilize our system of public education for the long-term.
Finally, a report from the Texas select committee on economic competitiveness is due to be released soon, and I’ll have a report on that next time. For more information, find me online at Quorum Public Affairs and on Twitter @CCQuorum.
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Craig Casselberry is founder and president of Quorum Public Affairs, Inc. and a 20-year veteran of Texas politics. As president of Quorum Public Affairs, Casselberry has managed more than 100 strategic communications projects, issue coalitions, and federal, state and local public policy campaigns for corporate clients of all sizes. You can learn more about Craig HERE.