Chamber and City Partnership Strengthens Our Legislative Efforts
The McKinney Chamber of Commerce has a unique partnership with the City of McKinney that began before the 2009 legislative session. As the current legislative session gets underway the City and the Chamber adopted a joint legislative agenda that best represent the interests of their constituencies, the citizens and businesses of McKinney, and issues that are expected to arise during the legislative session.
The City and Chamber formed an alliance called PRIL (Public Relations, Intergovernmental and Legislative). The two entities meet to determine where their common priorities and jointly employ the services of a lobbyist to advocate that shared agenda both during the legislative session and throughout the rest of the year.
The joint legislative agenda for the 83rd Legislative Session of the State of Texas addresses the following issues:
Type A/Type B Sales Tax Revenue – Support continued use of a locally approved 1/2 cent sales tax collected by cities to fund economic development efforts and oppose efforts to reduce local control of these funds or efforts to limit the uses of these funds. Because these funds are local funds, taxpayers should retain the right to manage their use for community and economic development.
Support continued funding for the Texas Enterprise Fund and Texas Emerging Technology Fund programs to include unexpended balances and restoring funding to be consistent with FY 10-11 biennial budget levels.
Tax abatements and other economic development incentives. Continue to support local control and flexibility in the use of tax abatements, tax increment financing, reinvestment zones and other incentives to promote economic development and job creation.
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE
Funding. Restore the $5.4 billion in funding cuts to public schools and replace the current funding system with adequate and equitable formula that allows for growth based funding.
Local Control. Ensure districts have flexibility to meet the needs of their students and discretionary funds to meet local community needs.
Accountability. Reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and rely less on standardized testing. Support the efforts of the Texas Education Consortium to present a more comprehensive approach to accountability.
Community Colleges. Support education at the community college level as an important contributor to training students for jobs in the workforce.
Healthcare will continue to be a very important issue that affects every employer and will continue to be a central concern over the next 12 to 18 months as we learn more about the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act. We will continue to be engaged in monitoring this issue and its impacts on our business members.
Principles and Priorities
Principles. – All transportation policy decisions should be focused on increasing efficiency and ease of movement of people and goods across Texas. We must understand our system needs in the short-term while envisioning a system that is sustainable for the next several decades. While financing options, project sizes, and decision processes are limiting factors to implementation, we cannot originate infrastructure goals based solely or primarily on funding. Financing methodology is an important but secondary question. Instead, we must first envision the system the state deserves and then figure out how to pay for it. Prioritization for transportation projects should include potential economic impact in addition to current levels of service of existing roadways.
Constitutional amendment mandating transportation related funds not be diverted for non-transportation purposes.
McKinney Road Priorities – Our current road infrastructure priorities include the following:
— FM546 Replacement to improve access to the area surrounding Collin County Regional Airport
— Virginia Parkway (FM 3038)Mallard Lakes to US 75 - traffic on Virginia Parkway currents exceeds the capacity for a four lane roadway. This project will increase capacity of the roadway by 50% by installing a new lane in each direction to the outside of the existing lanes.
— Virginia Parkway – Ridge to Mallard Lakes - This project will increase capacity of the roadway by 50% by installing a new lane in each direction to the outside of the existing lanes.
— Stacy Road – Ridge to SH 121 – Traffic on Stacy Road has increased steadily since it was completed several years ago and is currently nearing capacity for a four lane roadway. This project will increase capacity of the roadway by 50% by installing one new lane in each direction in the median of the existing roadway.
— SH 5 Construction – FM546 to US 380 – This roadway is the main commercial corridor for McKinney east of US 75. A separate planning project is currently underway through a partnership between the City, NCTCOG and TxDOT. This project will implement the findings of the study and is anticipated to include paving, median, sidewalk, landscape, lighting and other enhancements.
TAXES & SPENDING
Fiscal policy. Continue to support fiscal restraint in state spending and transparency in budgeting so that taxpayers know exactly what dollars are collected and where they are spent.
Franchise (margin) tax – Review and restructure the franchise (margin) tax.
- Business losses. Support authorizing a business’s losses on the franchise (margin) tax to be carried forward for up to 10 years.
- Exemption of flow-through funds. Support an exemption from the franchise (margin) tax of all flow-through funds that are mandated by contract to be distributed to other entities.
- Research and development tax credit. Support reinstating the research and development tax credit (provided under the previous franchise tax) and allowing it to be carried forward.
Perhaps no other issue is as critical for all businesses in Texas as our water supply. The latest update to the Texas State Water Plan confirms that in drought conditions, Texas businesses do not have the water that is needed to sustain economic opportunity. The report projects that by 2060 water supplies will decrease by 10% while our population will grow by 82%, from 25.4 million to over 46 million and the need for additional water in Texas during drought conditions will reach 8.3 million acre-feet.
Conservation of existing water resources, development of additional cost-effective supplies and sound scientifically-based and economically rational standards for protecting water quality will be key to our ability to continue to attract business opportunity to Texas.
State Water Plan. Adequate funding for the implementation of the State Water Plan.
Water Conservation. Support efforts to ensure that water users are required to develop and enforce stringent water conservation measures as a condition of receiving any state financial or technical assistance for water resource planning and development.
For more information about the PRIL program or the shared legislative agenda, please contact Jodi Ann LaFreniere Ray.