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Move your business to Texas; get a break on college tuition
by Gary Kent
Jan 14, 2010 | 893 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini
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A new law written by State Sen. Judith Zaffirini last year which took effect on Jan. 1 should enhance economic development efforts in Bee County.

Senate Bill 2244 gives the governor the power to offer in-state tuition to immediate family members of employers and employees of new businesses in the state as an incentive for relocating or expanding their operations in Texas.

“The waiver program has great potential for helping families and businesses that relocate to Texas,” the Laredo Democrat said last week.

“Is it a good program?” Bee Development Authority Executive Director Joe B. Montez asked. “I think it is.”

Montez said the law will give the Texas Governor’s Office one more tool to use in trying to lure companies from outside the state to move to Texas.

“The more incentives the better,” Montez said. Already, Texas communities have a number of tools they can use to lure new business into the state, including enterprise zones, tax abatements and others.

Giving employers and their employees the ability to enroll their family members in college classes immediately and not have to pay out-of-state tuition rates is a good reason for people from outside Texas to move here.

“I think anything you can do to enhance economic development is a good thing,” said City Manager Tom Ginter.

Being able to provide one’s family members with an affordable education is a “qualify of life” issue that can convince a business owner to move his company to Texas, he explained.

Since Bee County has a community college with several major universities not far from here, that makes this a more attractive place for businesses to want to relocate, civic leaders said.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said County Judge David Silva.

As a member of the BDA board of directors, Silva has an interest in seeing new incentives created to attract business to Texas and to Bee County.

Usually, newcomers to Texas have to prove that they have resided or worked in the state for 12 months before they qualify for in-state tuition rates, Silva said.

That means that the college age children of many people who move to Texas end up staying in the states from which their families move until they have completed college.

“This will allow them to join the family,” Silva said, “and put them on their way to becoming productive, taxpaying Texans.”

Zaffirini’s bill was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Branch, a Dallas Republican and chair of the House Higher Education Committee.

SB 2244 specifies a five-year limit during which employees of qualified businesses may enroll themselves and their children in state universities at the in-state tuition rate.

The bill also directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to work with the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office to determine whether a business is eligible for the program and the period during which it is eligible.

Interested people may find out more information on SB 2244 at www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or by calling the Texas Legislative Reference Library at (512) 463-1252.
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