Most businesses in Texas play by the rules, generate local jobs and are upstanding members of their communities. Unfortunately, our economic development policies are as likely to reward the bad guys as the good guys.
Texas offers some of the most generous economic development incentives in the nation. The Texas Enterprise Fund, the biggest “deal closer” for our state, provides cash grants to entice companies to come here. Even more generous is the Texas Chapter 313 incentive, a program mostly for energy companies that provides tax limitations worth tens of millions of dollars. Add to this local and county incentives, and Texas is notorious for picking a small set of companies for preferential tax treatment of cash payments — even bribers, polluters and pill-pushers.
Bribing government officials in the United States or abroad is illegal under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Though rare, when companies are caught, it’s major news. Companies pay millions in fines and executives may even face jail time. In Texas and many other states, the few companies settling bribery claims are also companies that receive millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Did state officials know that they were subsidizing bribers?