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The Brief: June 11, 2015

Gov. Greg Abbott wrote a letter Wednesday to the General Electric CEO, highlighting the state's latest tax deal in an effort to poach GE away from Connecticut.

Gov. Greg Abbott spoke during the grand opening of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's new building on April 21, 2015.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledges he isn't the only governor trying to poach General Electric away from Connecticut, where the company is calling proposed tax increases "truly discouraging."

But in a letter Wednesday to GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, Abbott highlighted the Legislature's just-passed tax deal as one reason why the company should pick Texas.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek reports it is Abbott's "latest effort to pick up where his jobs-poaching predecessor left off."

In addition to touting Texas' low-tax environment, Abbott plugged the state's economic incentives programs and its commitment to educating its workers. Abbott made pre-kindergarten a priority throughout the session and last week signed into law a so-called Governor's University Research Initiative that uses leftover money from a now-defunct incentives program to lure world-class scholars to Texas schools.

In Connecticut, GE has all but threatened to leave over a budget deal that would raise taxes on corporations and the state's wealthiest residents. In a statement last week, the international conglomerate said the plan makes businesses like it "seriously consider whether it makes any sense to continue to be located in this state."

Seth Martin, a spokesman for GE, said the company is evaluating whether it should move its headquarters but that it's "too soon to comment further on the process."

Connecticut's governor, meanwhile, pushed back against Abbott's request.

"Connecticut has one of the lowest  — one of the lowest — effective corporate tax rates in America," spokesman Devon Puglia said in a statement. "It's that simple."

Trib Must-Reads

Border Crossings Down: State Buildup Forges Ahead, by Julián Aguilar — The numbers of unaccompanied children and families illegally crossing the border into Texas have fallen dramatically, but Gov. Greg Abbott says the state is still justified pumping about $800 million into beefing up border security. 

Abbott Signs Bill Mandating Use of E-Verify, by Julián Aguilar — Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Wednesday that requires state agencies and institutions of higher education to use the federal electronic employment verification system known as E-Verify. 

UT Reviewing Claims That Basketball Players Cheated, by Matthew Watkins — The University of Texas at Austin is reviewing several possible cases of cheating or academic noncompliance by former basketball players following a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education, school officials said Wednesday.

Abbott Nixes Water Conservation, Contract Bidding Bills, by Patrick Svitek — Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed two more pieces of legislation in the wake of the 84th legislative session.

Texas' Weaver Signs on With Ohio Governor's 2016 Team, by Patrick Svitek — John Weaver, a veteran Republican consultant from Texas, has joined the political team of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Chairman of Water Development Board Stepping Down, by Liz Crampton — Carlos Rubinstein, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, has announced he is stepping down after serving in the position for nearly two years.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott signs legislation on religious liberties at the Governor's Mansion at 9:30 a.m.

•    The Texas Ethics Commission meets at 9:30 a.m. to discuss several advisory opinions and rules.

Elsewhere

McKinney officer responded to 2 suicide calls before pool incidentThe Associated Press

Exxon Tells Texas Regulators Its Wells Didn't Cause EarthquakesWall Street Journal

Blue Bell can't identify listeria source at Brenham plant, Houston Chronicle

Austin police prepare for biker rally after deadly Waco shootingAustin American-Statesman

Battle over education bill reflects GOP split, Houston Chronicle

Legislature hands new ‘upskirt’ law to AbbottSan Antonio Express-News

In Senate test vote, Cornyn and Cruz vote to kill Export-Import Bank, The Dallas Morning News

Gun rights advocates' push for campus-carry measures like Texas' is slow goingLos Angeles Times

Mexico decries new Texas law beefing up security on border, The Associated Press

Texas economy grew second fastest in U.S. in 2014, The Dallas Morning News

Tight finish expected in San Antonio mayor's race, San Antonio Express-News

Ted Cruz team looks beyond Iowa, New Hampshire, Politico

How Jeb Bush's campaign ran off course before it even beganThe Washington Post

Quote to Note

"I don’t believe that’s going to happen and I’m not holding my breath on it."

Julian Castro, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, tells Bloomberg's Margaret Talev on whether he'll be added on the 2016 ticket as the vice presidential nominee.

Today in TribTalk

Why we need a special session on gay marriage, by Cathie Adams — We call on Gov. Greg Abbott to stand for traditional marriage by calling the Texas Legislature back into session to pass a bill defending the state against judicial supremacy.

News From Home

•    During the 84th legislative session, state lawmakers had 140 days to pass a budget and and other bills they thought were priorities for Texas. In this special collaboration with Texas Standard, we look back at the big takeaways from the session.

•    A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Texas' strict abortion regulations on Tuesday. See how the number of licensed abortion facilities in Texas has fallen since those rules took effect.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Health Care and the 84th Legislature on June 24 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio

•    A Conversation About Houston and the 84th Legislature on June 29 at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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