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Tech Titans supports research funding, workforce development in legislative agenda

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January 31, 2017
The Tech Titans Board has approved the legislative agenda developed by the Advocacy Team for the ongoing state legislative session. The agenda focuses on four main categories: economic development, public education, higher education, and workforce development.

Tech Titans will continue to support the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Research and Development (R&D) credit, and other tools that attract and retain technology companies in Texas. Incentives for businesses are needed to keep Texas competitive with other states as a premiere location for high-paying jobs and investment in technology. The board also opposes any tax policies that place additional burdens on businesses, including property taxes that inequitably distribute rates among companies and residences.

Further, Tech Titans supports any measures that encourage diversity in the workforce and that avoid negative impacts on economic growth, capital investment and tourism in Texas that occur when companies discriminate against LGBT communities (note recent news coverage in North Carolina).
Another prominent agenda item seeks to adequately fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs at Texas schools, even exceeding the “minimum constitutional standards” described by the Texas Supreme Court last August. 

Supporting public schools contributes to building a Texas workforce that can accommodate an expanding and increasingly diverse high-tech industry. Currently, only 35% of the Texas adult workforce has a college degree or work-related certificate, when studies show 60% of our adult population with vocational education and training is necessary to meet workforce demands. Barbara Baffer, chair of the Tech Titans Advocacy Committee said, “Businesses in North Texas are competing for technical talent. We need to support a vibrant pipeline of technical talent now and in the future. Therefore, we are advocating for Texas’ 60x30 plan to help close the technical talent gap.”

Texas already has set an ambitious goal to ensure 60% of adults have an associate’s degree or higher by 2030, the 60x30 plan. Tech Titans supports any measures that enable implementation of that plan, including expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that specifically address the needs of the technology industry and alternative certifications for K-12 teachers of STEM courses.
Improving funding for programs and research in higher education institutions builds a strong STEM workforce for the Texas high-tech industry. The legislative agenda supports three programs in particular. 

The Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) matches and leverages private donations for research at emerging research institutions in Texas, and has a significant shortfall from the success of previous years that must be addressed. Tech Titans also recommends amending the Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI) to allow universities to provide incentives for emerging researchers in addition to Nobel laureates and members of national academies, and require industry support for recruitment to ensure commercialization outcomes that support the Texas economy. 

Lastly, Texas legislators should support funding for the UT-Dallas Engineering for Life initiative, which performs groundbreaking research on new, revolutionary medical devices that translates high-impact research into job creation and economic growth.

To stay up-to-date on the activities of this year’s Texas legislature, subscribe to the weekly Tech Titans legislative alerts. Also, if you would like to connect with lawmakers in person, Tech Titans will be hosting trips to both Austin and Washington DC in the coming months. Visit our website events calendar.
Kedzie Arrington, Legislative Administrator
kedzie@techtitans.org, (972) 792-2857