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NPT Capitol: Chavez passes bill, swipes the Guv

chavezState Rep Norma Chavez took a swing at the Governor today, by passing a bill that would increase legislative oversight of the Emerging Technology Fund.

The fund encountered controversy earlier in the session because of a $50m grant to present Governor Rick Perry’s alma mater, Texas A&M. “That money was supposed to be closing deals. It may be that we need to hold them more accountable,” State Rep Jim Pitts, a co-sponsor of Chavez’s bill, told the Dallas Morning News in March.

“When taxpayers are told that a taxpayer-funded program is going to be used for a specific purpose, they expect it to be used for that purpose,” Rep. Chávez said in a press release today. “This bill will ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the Emerging Technology Fund, and that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately.”

Read the rest of the press release after the jump

–Ben Wright

CHÁVEZ TRANSPARENCY BILL PASSES HOUSE

Bill will require that the Office of the Governor Report annually on the Emerging Technology Fund

AUSTIN – Today, the House approved House Bill 2531 by State Representative Norma Chávez which would require the Office of the Governor to submit annual performance reports on the Emerging Technology Fund (ETF). Earlier this session, lawmakers learned that the ETF was used to provide Texas A&M University with a $50 million grant to be used for construction of a new building. The fund was not intended to provide funds for the construction of buildings.

“When taxpayers are told that a taxpayer-funded program is going to be used for a specific purpose, they expect it to be used for that purpose,” Rep. Chávez said. “This bill will ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the Emerging Technology Fund, and that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately.”

The Emerging Technology Fund was created during the 79th Legislature and is managed by the Office of the Governor. The fund promotes technology-related research and commercialization projects. The office of the Governor made 46 awards from the fund totaling $85.3 million during the 2006-2007 biennium. During fiscal year 2008, 33 awards were made totaling $51.8 million.

Other states that have similar technology development programs are required to submit annual reports on the performance of the programs, but the State of Texas does not currently have such a requirement. Additionally, under the fund’s contracts, the Office of the Governor may take an equity position in companies that receive commercialization awards. These investments are of a high-risk, high-return nature and warrant additional disclosure.

House Bill 2531 will require the Office of the Governor to submit an annual fund report to the Legislature on the ETF that includes performance metrics, such as the aggregate total of private sector investment, federal government funding, and contributions from other sources that are leveraged in connection with a grant from the fund and discloses the names of the companies in which the state has taken an equity position. It also requires the annual report to contain a brief description of the intended outcomes of projects funded under provisions relating to incentives for commercialization activities during the preceding two state fiscal years and the actual outcomes all projects funded under those provisions during the ETF’s existence.

“Texas needs to be at the forefront and invest in developing new technologies that will create new jobs and expand our economy,” Rep. Chávez said. “But Texas also needs to know how successful or unsuccessful these taxpayer-funded investments are.”

House Bill 2531 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Politics as usual

    Ken G

    May 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm


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