For most companies that expand or relocate, taxpayer incentives are the icing on the cake, not the main dish. That’s especially true in Texas, where built-in advantages already swamp most other states.
Texas is a beacon to business for many reasons, from low taxes to a low cost of living. Most important, it’s arguably the country’s best growth market, considering jobs, population and business development.
So why bother with the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Tech Fund, two pools of taxpayer money that shower companies with cash incentives? Because they help frame the narrative that Texas fights hard for business -- and puts money behind it.
That message starts at the top, with Gov. Rick Perry creating the funds, overseeing them and serving as their public champion. And that ethos trickles down to the local level, where cities climb over each other to bid for almost any economic development.
Last week, Fort Worth proposed a tax abatement for In-N-Out Burgers’ distribution center. And North Richland Hills is willing to raise $8 million in new taxes so Tarrant County College will build a performing arts center there.
In many parts of the country, such inducements would be an embarrassment, a crass pay-to-play tactic that might cost politicians their job. It works in Texas, because business comes first, and Perry is downright proud of it.