April 19, 2017
With one month and 10 days left in the 85th Texas Legislative session, tension is mounting and so are the number of bills awaiting a hearing…
The legislature’s only goal of the session—to pass a budget for the next biennium—is rounding the corner with the finish line in site. After a 15-and-a-half-hour debate in the House on Senate Bill 1 (the Senate’s version that passed unanimously) and an abundance of dramatics, the House passed the bill back over to the Senate with many added amendments. There are crucial differences between the two versions, including tapping into the Rainy Day Fund (the state’s savings account) to the tune of $2.5 billion. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is vehemently opposed to using the Rainy Day Fund, so the House must now work with the Senate to reconcile their budget differences. Most of the arduous work has been done, but the devil is in the details so the House/Senate budget conferees have some late nights ahead of them.
Another critical measure, especially to business owners in the state, has moved one step closer to passage. House Bill 28 by Chairman Dennis Bonnen would phase out the state’s franchise tax. HB 28 has been sent to the full House for a vote and is one of two potential measures on the table to eliminate the dreaded tax. Senate Bill 17 by Chairwoman Jane Nelson would accomplish the same goal under a different time frame and formula. Bonnen’s bill would allocate a portion of surplus state money, up to $3.5 billion each two-year budget cycle, to reduce the state franchise tax, ultimately phasing it out, while Nelson’s bill would reduce the franchise tax every year that the Comptroller of Public Accounts certifies that the state will experience at least five-percent revenue growth which would mean an end to the hated business tax in 10 years. The winners in this political game are you, the small business owners, and ultimately the Texas economy. While the two houses battle it out for the best tax relief options, NFIB/Texas will continue to put in our two cents.
Lastly, NFIB/Texas was invited to represent the small business voice at a round table discussion hosted by House Economic and Small Business Development Chairwoman Angie Chen Button. The round table was held with Texas Banking Commissioner Charles Cooper, and other representatives from the banking community, including small community bankers and large banks. The goal was to begin discussions on helping small businesses to more easily access capital. The banking community and the Commissioner was very receptive to our comments on behalf of the small business community. Both the Commissioner and Chairwoman Button were excited to announce that this is just the beginning of the discussions to help small businesses. While, most likely the legislature will be charged with studying the ‘access to capital’ issue during the interim, this means that small business issues like this are receiving attention from the Texas Legislature and NFIB/Texas is at the table on behalf of Texas small business. If you have had experience with this issue in particular and would like to be a resource, give testimony, or are interested in being in the room for future Texas Legislature conversations on this topic please contact our office. Be on the lookout for more inside scoop in the next Spilman Report.