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Straus Names Panel to Look at Incentive Programs

House Speaker Joe Straus on Friday announced the creation of a committee tasked with looking at whether the state benefits economically from state and local incentive programs.

Gov. Rick Perry walks in front of a projection screen at BioWare Corp. EA Games after making an economic development announcement on July 18, 2011.

House Speaker Joe Straus on Friday created a committee tasked with looking at how much the state benefits economically from state and local incentive programs.

Long considered a staple of the state's efforts to promote economic development, these incentives in recent years have come under fire from critics across the political spectrum as being unnecessary "corporate welfare."

"We owe it to taxpayers to take a detailed look at what has worked and what can be improved," Straus said in a statement. "Some incentive programs may need retooling and others may have outlived their usefulness. I’m confident that this committee can supply the answers that will help the full House prepare to address this issue in next year’s session.”

The Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives will be chaired by state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, will serve as the panel's vice chairman.

Other members are:

•    Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin

•    Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont

•    John Kuempel, R-Seguin

•    Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker

•    J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville

•    Borris Miles, D-Houston

•    Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez, D-San Antonio

•    René Oliveira, D-Brownsville

•    Mary Ann Perez, D-Pasadena

•    Drew Springer, R-Muenster

•    Jason Villalba, R-Dallas

Straus also named members to two other committees that have a focus on the Texas economy. State Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, will co-chair the Joint Interim Committee to Study Education Policy for a Skilled Worforce. According to the speaker's office, the panel will look at career and technology eduction programs. Others named to the panel are Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth; Joe Farias, D-San Antonio; Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown; Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Mission; Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan; and Ken King, R-Canadian.

Straus also named three legislators — John Frullo, R-Lubbock; Donna Howard, D-Austin; and Murphy — to the Partnership Advisory Commission, which advises state agencies that work on projects that use both public and private facilities.

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