88th Texas Legislature in Review

YTexas 88th Leg Econ Dev Panel

Earlier this year, greater:SATX announced a formal collaboration with Opportunity Austin, marking a significant milestone in our journey towards becoming the nation's foremost emerging megaregion. In this era of interconnectivity, it is essential for neighboring cities to work together, leveraging their strengths and resources. With a mutual interest in infrastructure, education, workforce development, and policies that foster economic growth, our partnership is poised to bring about transformative change.


Our immediate focus is to advocate for new economic development incentives that will support our collective efforts to attract, retain, and grow jobs within our megaregion. Over the past two decades, greater:SATX and Opportunity Austin have successfully secured over 185,000 jobs through these incentives. Today, we stand united, knowing that our strategic partnership will amplify these opportunities and yield even greater impact.


Together, with the support of regional partners throughout the Central Texas megaregion, we will shape the future of our state, fostering innovation, driving economic development, and creating boundless opportunities for all. In light of the 88th Texas Legislative Session coming to a close, here are some of the highlights from the San Antonio-Austin megaregion and beyond.


House Bill 5:

House Bill 5 emerged as a crucial piece of legislation during the 88th Legislative Session, addressing the expiration of Chapter 313 and the need for temporary tax cuts on school M&O property taxes. The bill outlined provisions for determining the taxable value for school district M&O property tax purposes. According to the new law, the taxable value will be calculated as 50% of the market value of the property for a 10-year period. Notably, if the property falls within a federally established qualified opportunity zone, the taxable value will be reduced to 25%. This legislation aims to support economic growth, while balancing the needs of the education system.


Preservation of Key Economic Development Tools:

During the 88th Legislative Session, several economic development tools were preserved, ensuring their continued contribution to Texas's prosperity. Notably, the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and the Skills Development Fund were among the tools that received no additional funding but were successfully retained. The Skills Development Fund has proven invaluable for workforce development programs, with examples such as SA WORX utilizing these funds effectively. The legislature's decision to preserve these tools highlights their commitment to fostering economic growth and job creation in the state.


Enhanced Collaboration between Austin and San Antonio MSAs:

There has been a growing perception that the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) have been working together more effectively than ever before. This notion was reaffirmed during the legislative session, as the partnership between the two regions was formalized to address the replacement of Chapter 313. By coordinating efforts with staff on the ground in Austin, communicating with investors, and mobilizing action when needed, the collaborative approach proved to be efficient and effective. The success of this partnership underscores the power of collaboration in advancing economic development goals.


Allocation of Surplus Funds for Texas' Economic Future:

The State of Texas began the new biennium with a historic $32.7 billion surplus, presenting a unique opportunity to allocate funds strategically for the state's economic future. The legislature took decisive action by prioritizing key areas that support economic development. Higher education received a substantial investment of $3 billion, while infrastructure projects, including water-related initiatives, broadband expansion, dispatchable energy, and highway construction, secured a total of $16.9 billion in funding. Notably, the appropriations for business and economic development saw a remarkable increase of 154% in Senate Bill 30, highlighting their importance in shaping Texas economic landscape.


The 88th Legislative Session in Texas witnessed significant strides in economic development. The region was thrilled to celebrate the passing of House Bill 5, now known as Chapter 403. Key economic development tools, such as the TEF and Skills Development Fund, were preserved, providing vital resources for workforce development programs. The collaborative efforts between the Austin and San Antonio MSAs exemplified the power of partnerships.


Learn more about the results of the 88th Texas Legislative Session at https://www.austinchamber.com/blog/texas-88th-legislative-session-wrap-up.

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