(AMONG OTHER ITEMS IN RECENTLY APPROVED RESOLUTIONS)
HOUSTON – The Greater Houston Partnership voted at its April Board of Directors meeting this week to unanimously approve several key resolutions affecting the Houston region. Resolutions include support of increasing trauma care funding; implementation of energy conservation provisions; storm cost securitization; the continuation of the Texas Economic Development Act; efforts to exempt property used by certain nonprofit community business organizations from ad valorem taxation; and amending the procedure for determining a school district’s property value.
Trauma Care Funding
The Greater Houston Partnership supports legislative initiatives which require appropriation and distribution of all authorized uncompensated trauma and emergency health care funds to designated trauma centers in a timely and appropriate manner.
General Revenue-Dedicated Account No. 5111, Trauma Fund and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) account is projected to generate approximately $125 million per year of the biennium and is projected to have accumulated more than $350 million by the end of the current state fiscal year. The 2009 Legislature plans to appropriate only $75 million per year of the biennium, leaving a significant fund balance. This balance could be immediately distributed to trauma centers throughout the State of Texas, such as Memorial Hermann and Ben Taub, which have borne the burden of significantly increased admissions of trauma patients since the closure of the Level I Trauma Center at UTMB after Hurricane Ike in September 2008.
Energy Efficiency Performance Standards
The Greater Houston Partnership supports legislative efforts for statewide implementation of energy efficiency provisions of the 2009 International Residential Code for all single-family residential construction and the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code for all other residential, commercial and industrial construction.
It is critical that newly constructed buildings be required to meet energy efficiency standards, as energy retrofits to achieve the same energy savings are much more expensive once a building is complete.
Storm Cost Securitization
The Greater Houston Partnership supports legislative efforts to authorize utilities to file with the Public Utility Commission for recovery of storm costs through “securitization.”
The Greater Houston Partnership recognizes the expense of responding to natural disasters and supports the creation of a mechanism that would minimize the rate impacts on consumers and help electric utilities recover their storm costs and regain financial strength.
Elimination or Imposition of Undue Burdens on Tax Code Chapter 313
The Greater Houston Partnership opposes legislative efforts to eliminate or impose undue burdens on Tax Code Chapter 313, the Texas Economic Development Act.
To remain strong economically, Texas must retain an advantage over competing states in its ability to attract new investments and job creation. Tax Code Chapter 313 provides the state and the Greater Houston Partnership’s 10-county region with an important mechanism to accomplish this goal through tax credits and appraisal value limitations. Eliminating or imposing significant constraints on this Act will negatively impact the economic prosperity of the state and the region by removing or hindering this crucial tool.
Ad Valorem Tax Exemption
The Greater Houston Partnership supports legislative efforts to exempt property used by certain nonprofit community business organizations engaged in economic development activities from ad valorem taxation. The resulting financial gain will allow the nonprofit community business organizations to have more money for economic development initiatives and growth in the region.
Amending Property Value Study
The Greater Houston Partnership supports amendments to the Comptroller’s Property Value Study (PVS) that would exclude unequal appraisal determinations with significant variations that would negatively affect the validity and reliability of the study. The exclusion of these unequal appraisal determinations from the taxable property value calculation will reduce the likelihood that our regional school districts will be assigned invalid local appraisal values and, in turn, receive less state funding.
School districts whose local appraisal values are not certified as valid by the Comptroller’s office because of these unequal appraisal determinations will not only lose necessary state funding, but also must engage in a costly hearing process. Supporting this amendment to the PVS provides our regional school districts with increased funding and enables the school districts to avoid costly appeals of PVS determination