With the 86th Legislative Session in the rear view mirror, it’s time to look at some of the highlights from this year’s session from a business perspective.
One of the four core issues supported by all of the chambers of commerce in Montgomery County in 2019 was flood mitigation as a result of Hurricane Harvey’s impact. More importantly, creating a regional approach to studying and funding projects that benefits a wider swath of constituents. And, the good news is that the Legislature delivered…in a big way…to the tune of $3.5 billion over the next biennium. This money will be earmarked for regional infrastructure projects…and a key cog in the chambers of commerce legislative priorities…a comprehensive flood prevention plan. Score an A+ for business in our area!
Another core issue supported by the chambers of commerce in Montgomery County was public education funding. Having the state up their ante in the funding of public schools while relieving some of the burden of the local taxpayers (especially the largest taxpayers in the county…businesses) was a top priority. Once again, the Legislature passed landmark legislation that will put more dollars into school districts’ accounts from the State thereby reducing the local tax rates currently charged during the next biennium. While we will continue to support top quality education in the state of Texas and especially here in Montgomery County, businesses should give a thumbs up to our local elected officials for delivering on promises made to reel in property tax rates.
Finally, with Sam Houston State University moving forward on construction of their College of Osteopathic Medicine program in Conroe, it was exciting to see the passage of HB 2867 which would help address the primary care physician shortage in Texas, especially in rural and underserved areas, by officially establishing the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). The medical school would be clinically focused and community-based and would help bridge the gap between rural and urban healthcare by focusing on residency programs in underserved areas. The bill also would maximize financial support opportunities for prospective and current medical students by allowing SHSU to access funds under the Joint Admission Medical Program and would give the school access to important insurance coverage, residency funding, and other important programs.
Overall, businesses have reason to be pleased with the outcome of the 86th Legislative Session…as the largest funders of state, county and local governments, businesses in Texas that can reduce their tax bills, have more dollars available to invest in capital improvements, job growth and business expansion.
By: Brian Bondy, President, Conroe Chamber