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Government/Politics

Lawmakers Grill Governor’s Chief Aide Over Early Texas Enterprise Fund Expenditures

State lawmakers interrogate members of Gov. Rick Perry’s office over a report that shows half the companies receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s Texas Enterprise Fund, did so without a contract to create jobs and boost the state’s economy.   

The State Auditor’s Report, the first since the fund was created in 2003, found the Governor’s office handed out more than half of the fund’s balance to out-of-state companies that were considering a move to Texas, but had never applied for the state incentives. 

Governor’s Office Top Aide Jonathan Taylor testified before the House’s Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives and said, “It wasn’t just the office that didn’t require an application, it was the law that didn’t require the application. And just because we didn’t require it, doesn’t mean we didn’t receive it.”

Taylor counted the letters of correspondence between the governor’s office and these businesses as applications. He told lawmakers that the office later used these letters to design a formal application.

One of the major tipping points of Taylor’s testimony came from questions about whether the Legislature should adopt new rules that change how the state evaluates these incentive contracts. 

Committee member, Brownsville Democratic Rep. Rene Oliveira questioning Taylor said,  "You don’t want rules posted and you don’t want criteria posted, and that’s what the taxpayers of Texas expect and should have. Are you resisting this?” Taylor replied, “I am resisting posting rules related to its application evaluation”

The State Auditor’s report also points out that the governor’s office relaxed rules and provided companies with extensions when they did not create the number of agreed upon jobs for the state.   Lawmakers will continue to examine possible legislation for 2015 that changes how the Texas Enterprise Fund is monitored.