Economic development is a competitive game, and Texas plays it as well as any other state in the nation. That could be part of the explanation why Texas cities took six of the top 21 spots of most recession-proof metro areas in 2010, according to MetroMonitor, a quarterly report released by Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program.
With low taxes, an expansive transportation infrastructure and a growing work force, Texas fares well in attracting corporate relocations and expansions.
When the public dollars that fund economic development initiatives are tight, however, it's time to suspend the game. Texas can no longer afford to be a big spender on Boardwalk when it comes to doling out incentives to woo companies here.
The House's initial budget proposal includes no new money for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund or the Texas Enterprise Fund in the next biennium. The Senate's initial spending plan moves a third of the $151 million balance in the Enterprise Fund to job training programs.
Given the state's projected budget shortfall of $27 billion, both proposals sound prudent.
While the game is suspended because of a lack of funds, it would be a good time to revise the rules before play is resumed. More than one observer has questioned Gov. Rick Perry's lopsided control of the administration of the funds.
As the rules read today, the governor, with agreement from the lieutenant governor and House speaker, can award Enterprise Fund money to assist communities in recruiting out-of-state businesses. The fund was established in 2003 with $295 million shifted from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy-day fund. As of Dec. 31, 2010, more than $425 million was dispensed in TEF project allocations.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.star-telegram.com.