The Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce believes that healthy and educated residents are the basis for sustainable economic development, not only for businesses in Oak Cliff, but for all businesses in the state of Texas. Thus, our legislative agenda focuses on asking the Texas Legislature, in 2013, to take the following actions in healthcare, housing, education, transportation and water resources, all of which will benefit large and small business.
The Chamber is acutely aware of the need for reform of certain aspects of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (â€śLIHTCâ€ť) program at state, local, and federal levels of government to protect low-income communities from saturation by deed-restricted LIHTC projects. To that end, the Chamber strongly urges the Legislature to:
- Release the Stateâ€™s extended deed restrictions on LIHTC projects in Qualified Census Tracts of Region 3 that have been renovated to attract higher-income residents after their federal restriction period (currently 30 years) has expired.
- Remove requirements for State-of-Texas-imposed extended deed restrictions on future LIHTC projects
- Institute permanent spacing requirements that disallow further LIHTC projects in communities in which 10% or more of the existing rental housing units in a three-mile radius are deed-restricted low-income housing.
- Require the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and local governments to limit the Community Revitalization Plan LIHTC preference (â€śCRPâ€ť) to communities that are the focus of organized, forward-looking, and economically viable revitalization efforts of which additional LIHTC projects are a necessary component.
- Impose sunset review on all CRP designations.
- Give higher priority to applications for state LIHTC awards for projects designed to generate diversified rental revenue through mixed-use or mixed-income programs.
- Reform the Stateâ€™s LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plan (â€śQAPâ€ť) to apply to both the 4% and 9% credit projects.
- Revise the QAP to place local economic development associations, including chambers of commerce, on the same footing with neighborhood organizations when evaluating community input on proposed LIHTC projects.
Budget Transparency/Budget Diversions
In recent years, the Legislature has diverted revenue ostensibly raised for specific purposes to the Stateâ€™s general fund in an effort to make the Stateâ€™s budget appear balanced. Meanwhile, the intended uses and recipients of this â€śdedicatedâ€ť revenue have been left without promised funds. The Chamber strongly urges the Legislature to release revenue previously diverted from the recipient or use for which the revenue was raised and to develop a transparent budgeting process that accurately reflects the Stateâ€™s current economic health.
Education and Workforce Development
The Chamber urges the legislature to restore fair and adequate funding for school districts and to support an accountability and assessment system that fairly evaluates school and district performance, including measures to decrease dropout rates in all Texas schools. The Chamber also supports initiatives to provide for a safe school environment and expand and improve the quality of early care and education opportunities including funding to allow school districts to expand Pre-K services.
Health care is a vital component of Oak Cliffâ€™s economy both as an essential component of our communityâ€™s quality of life and as a primary source of employment. Because a thriving, economically-viable healthcare system is essential to achieving this Chamberâ€™s goals in Oak Cliffâ€”economic development and enhanced quality of lifeâ€”the Chamber strongly encourages the Legislature to pursue all available means of ensuring Texasâ€™s participation in the federal governmentâ€™s enhanced Medicaid program. The Chamber further encourages the Legislature to explore options Texas may have for participating in the design of its federally-mandated healthcare exchange. Consistent with the Chamberâ€™s goal of reversing budget diversions, the Chamber urges the Legislature to release revenue from red-light cameras to the trauma centers it was intended to benefit.
The Chamber supports the efforts of others in North Texas to address the Stateâ€™s dwindling supply of surface water, and encourages the Legislature to work with local governments to promote reasonable water conservation efforts.
National Mortgage Settlement Funds
The Chamber encourages the Legislature to allocate a significant portion of the approximately $134,000,000.00 in National Mortgage Settlement funds Texas received to housing and/or foreclosure-related activities.
The Chamber encourages the Legislature to enable the Texas Department of Transportation to convey unneeded undevelopable parcels of land acquired as part of Right of Way acquisition process to qualified nonprofit groups selected by local government.