The Big Conversation:
A new report has intensified the spotlight on business incentives in Texas.
For its latest installment in a series investigating tax breaks and incentives for businesses in the U.S., The New York Times has zeroed in on Texas, which Louise Story reports has doled out about $19 billion per year in such incentives, more than any other state.
Citing companies, like Samsung and Amazon, that have received millions of dollars in state and local incentives as state funding for services like education is slashed, the story sheds light on the vast sums of state money that have gone to corporations, possibly at the expense of the people of Texas.
"While economic development is the mantra of most officials, there’s a question of when does economic development end and corporate welfare begin," says Dale Craymer, the president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, which supports business incentives.
The story also centers on G. Brint Ryan, an influential consultant who helps businesses like ExxonMobil land incentives in Texas. Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst appointed Ryan to the state's Select Committee on Economic Development, which will report to the Legislature.
Ryan has donated millions of dollars to office holders across the state, including Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, who controls the Texas Enterprise Fund, through which the state pays out incentive money.
"When you give money to a state regulator who you appear before, there are potential conflicts of interest," Craig McDonald, the executive director of the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, tells the Times. "And Texas law is way too weak in allowing those conflicts to exist."
Read the full (warning: several-thousand-word) story here.
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