To Build Trust, Verify: Texas Gets Tougher and Better at Corporate Incentives

Ideally, Texas wouldn’t have to dole out big tax breaks to recruit new companies and investment. Businesses have many reasons to expand here without any public sweeteners.But in the real world, states compete for economic plums, and incentives have become a common tool. The challenge for state officials is to do incentives right and ensure that taxpayers’ money is protected. On that score, the Texas Enterprise Fund is instilling new confidencePublic trust in the fund, which has awarded over $600 million since it began, was shaken after a 2014 audit revealed problems in accountability, oversight and transparency. That led to reforms in the Legislature and the governor’s office, which administers the program.In the past two years, contracts with 16 companies have been canceled, primarily because they weren’t hitting their jobs target. The fund recovered over $19 million in clawbacks and other fees, and freed up another $12 million that was committed and never disbursed. Those high recoveries are an indicator that Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has stepped up monitoring.  Continue reading...

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