By: Katie G. Zarate, Director of Communications
TAB is feeling energized for the new year after a successful Policy Conference.
The event was kicked off by TAB CEO Glenn Hamer and Texas’ chief financial officer, Glenn Hegar for a session dubbed, “Between Two Glenns.” Comptroller Hegar touted the strength of the Texas economy, sharing his office is confident the state will continue to outpace the rest of the nation. When asked about the revised surplus estimate, Comptroller Hegar said the historic 26.95 billion dollars will present challenges for the Texas Legislature.
Every session, lawmakers are inundated with appropriations requests. It is already a tough job to say “no” due to budgetary restraints, but the pressure will be tenfold with this year’s excess.
TAB CEO Glenn Hamer asked the Comptroller if there were any investments he hoped the Legislature would make. Broadband expansion was at the top of his list. “We have seven million people in their homes that aren’t connected,” Comptroller Hegar said.
Increasing access to broadband is one of TAB’s 2023 key legislative priorities, and at number one is a replacement for Chapter 313.
Texas needs a modernized economic development incentive to ensure the state continues to compete for large capital-intensive investments. Competitors in neighboring states, and countries, have figured out Texas’ tax incentive model and now offer incentives of their own. A failure to replace Texas' Chapter 313 would be bad for local communities. At the TAB Policy Conference, Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s Director of Government Relations, Dana Harris, explained that when major employers move to town, they bring jobs, people, tax revenue, suppliers, etc. TAB will be working with the Legislature, alongside our local chambers of commerce partners, to replace the outgoing program and ensure Texas remains the Best State for Business.
Workforce development and education are also on TAB’s docket for session. The State Chamber was honored to have Representative Dan Huberty moderate the workforce and education panel, which included TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, and Representative Harold Dutton. A constant theme throughout the conversation was the need to ensure synergy between what schools are teaching and what employers need.
Programs like P-TECH as well as upskilling and reskilling opportunities are critical to maximizing student outcomes after graduation. Community colleges also play an outsized role in workforce readiness. TAB supports the new funding model proposed by Texas Commission on Community College Finance, Chairman Woody Hunt, which underlines the importance of outcomes and alignment with workforce needs. Massey Villarreal, incoming Chair of the TAB Board, led a discussion on this topic with state education leaders.
The conference agenda also included panels on how to curb rising health care costs for employers (featuring Representative James Frank and Representative Ramon Romero Jr.); all the above energy strategies; immigration policies that can help fill worker shortages; and a media panel featuring Texas political reporters from across the state.
Roy Spence, Chairman of the Board at GSD&M and Founder of the Make It Movement, served as the keynote speaker. He is the brain behind the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas,” and his work proves marketing can be used for a force of good. Through the Make It Movement, Roy is working to help young people learn their purpose and what high-paying jobs are out there, while they’re still in school. Roy broke the news that he is partnering with TAB, YTexas, and other organizations to host the largest career signing day October 6, 2023 at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium.
Closing out the 2022 TAB Policy Conference, Glenn Hamer sat down with two brilliant pro-business leaders: Joe Lonsdale and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Two years ago Joe Lonsdale, managing partner at 8VC, fled the anti-business policies in California and relocated to Texas. It's no secret that Texas has the right recipe for success when it comes to regulatory touch. The state surpassed California for the most Fortune 500 companies and continues to outpace the rest of the nation in several categories. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has a legacy of pro-business leadership. He was CEO of Cold Stone Creameries, and when he came into office, he applied those private sector skills to his Administration. Gov. Ducey gave a nod to Texas' model for fostering a pro-business climate. He applied similar policies in Arizona, eliminating overburdensome regulations, reforming taxes, and signing the largest income tax cut in state history.
TAB appreciates the many leaders who came out to speak at this year’s event and looks forward to working with everyone to further enhance the pro-business climate this session.