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Oak Cliff Chamber Legislative Agenda for the 83rd Texas Legislature Print Email
Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:28

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.


Low-Income Housing

The Chamber is acutely aware of the need for reform of certain aspects of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) 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 State’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 (“CRP”) 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 State’s LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plan (“QAP”) 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 State’s general fund in an effort to make the State’s budget appear balanced. Meanwhile, the intended uses and recipients of this “dedicated” 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 State’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

Health care is a vital component of Oak Cliff’s economy both as an essential component of our community’s quality of life and as a primary source of employment. Because a thriving, economically-viable healthcare system is essential to achieving this Chamber’s goals in Oak Cliff—economic development and enhanced quality of life—the Chamber strongly encourages the Legislature to pursue all available means of ensuring Texas’s participation in the federal government’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 Chamber’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.


Environment

The Chamber supports the efforts of others in North Texas to address the State’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.


Transportation/Economic Development

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.

 

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