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Newsletter: Tax Relief, Transparency & Economic Development

The Texas House continues to address issues that matter to our economy and our future. Just last week, the House approved major legislation to cut taxes, increase transparency in our budget and strengthen our approach to economic development.

Four weeks and a lot of work remain in this year’s legislative session, and I am very optimistic that the House is going to finish strong. We are making good progress on the fundamental issues that contribute to private-sector success, and we’re going to keep focusing on those issues during the very busy month of May.

Here is a look at some of the key issues that the House addressed in the last week:

Tax Relief: House Bill 31 would reduce the state’s sales tax for the first time ever, from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent. House Bill 32 cuts the state’s franchise tax on businesses by 25 percent. Both measures passed the House overwhelmingly and would encourage economic growth by allowing consumers and job creators to keep more of their money. The House will now work with the Senate to produce a final tax-relief proposal.

Budget Transparency: For a quarter century, the state has collected fees for a stated purpose, then left much of that money unspent so that it could be counted to certify other areas of the budget. These are the fees that Texans pay throughout their daily lives: to get their cars inspected, to get copies of birth certificates, or to renew a motorcycle license. In the last few years, we in the House have worked to use more of these fees for their intended purposes or, in some cases, reduce or eliminate the fees themselves. Three measures that the House passed this week – House Bills 6 and 7, plus House Joint Resolution 111 – further reduce this practice and set us on a course to end it entirely.

Economic Development: In the last several years, legitimate questions have been raised about the funds that the Governor’s Office uses to recruit businesses to Texas. Such funds can be very valuable to the state’s economy, but taxpayers need to have confidence that they are properly run. The House just approved House Bill 26, which would eliminate the most troubled of these accounts, the Emerging Technology Fund. It would also provide better oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund and help legislators better determine the effectiveness of that fund.

I’m proud of the solutions that the House has provided on each of these issues and look forward to working with the Senate to see that the proposals I described above become law. I welcome your feedback on these and other issues, so please feel free to contact me at joe@joestraus.org.