Texas has built one of the strongest private sector economies in the world. Job growth in Texas has far outpaced the rest of the country in recent years, and the state led the country out of the recent recession by producing more jobs than any other state. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Texas economy grew by 5.2 percent in 2014, which the Wall Street Journal reports was the second-highest rate in the country and more than twice the national growth rate. Joe and his House colleagues have worked to support job creation by keeping taxes low and regulations fair while also making strategic investments in priorities that help the private sector grow, such as transportation and water.
The House's record on these issues under Joe's leadership includes:
Reducing taxes on job creators. In the 2015 legislative session, the House took the lead in reducing the state's main business tax, which is commonly known as the "margins tax," by 25 percent across the board. This followed a smaller cut in the 2013 session. In 2011, the Legislature significantly expanded the tax's small-business exemption, allowing tens of thousands of small businesses to stop paying it.
Addressing the state's water needs. For decades, the State Water Plan spelled out a number of projects and priorities for addressing the state's water needs, but it did not receive the funding needed for implementation. Meanwhile, rapid growth in the state's population and persistent drought worsened the state's water shortage. In the 2013 legislative session, the House authorized a $2 billion revolving fund to provide initial funding for needed water projects in communities across Texas. Joe led the public campaign to dedicate funding for water infrastructure in the Texas Constitution, and Texans supported that effort with 73 percent of the vote in a November 2013 election.
Prioritizing transportation. Joe has led the House to take a number of steps to prioritize funding for transportation. For example, he led the effort to ensure that all of the money in the State Highway Fund will pay for transportation. For decades, some of that money had been diverted to other programs. He also worked with other state leaders to increase annual transportation funding by about $4 billion, without higher taxes and fees, in the 2015 legislative session. Joe's efforts to direct more state resources toward transportation has lessened the need for toll bonds to build new roads.
Fighting lawsuit abuse. The House has passed a number of pro-business legal reforms during Joe's time as Speaker. In 2015, the House approved legislation requiring more disclosure in asbestos lawsuits in order to enhance transparency and fairness. The House also prohibited the disclosure of personal financial information in the course of litigation. With Joe presiding as Speaker, the House passed "loser pays" reforms in order to discourage frivolous litigation and passed legislation to discourage barratry, which is commonly referred to as ambulance chasing. And the House has approved substantial business-backed reforms to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.