BG Note | News - What We're Reading (September 25, 2017)



Amid Austin budgeting and Amazon talk, debate over incentives rises (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

As Austin’s budgeting for fiscal 2018 drew to its final three days this month, two unexpected debates arose. Should the city stop paying tax reimbursement incentives to the Domain, outlined in a 2003 agreement through 2023? And should the city cut funding for the staffers required to provide “expeditious review” of permits for Google Fiber, as promised in a 2013 economic development agreement? The City Council ultimately passed on making any changes related to the Domain and cut only $100,000 of the $700,000 budgeted for Google Fiber’s expedited permitting. But the conversation immediately made Austin business advocates nervous the city is flirting with a reputation for reneging on agreements — particularly as Amazon looks for a home for its secondary headquarters.

Commissioners poke holes in consultant’s housing capacity predictions (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Austinites would like CodeNEXT to solve a lot of the city’s problems, and the housing crisis is chief among those problems.
At the Sept. 19 meeting of the joint land use commissions, John Fregonese of Fregonese Associates claimed that the second draft of CodeNEXT would put enough carrots out on sticks to surpass the goals set by the Strategic Housing Blueprint – granted that the market decides to chase them.
At the outset of his presentation, Fregonese was careful to clarify that the numbers calculated by his firm predicted the city’s future housing capacity, not the future housing forecast. Capacity, he explained, is how many units theoretically could be built in Austin based on its zoning, whereas a forecast would guess how many units realistically would be built.


Shrugging off critics, Straus confident in Texas House speaker win (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A day after drawing an opponent for Texas House speaker, state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said Saturday he’s confident he will keep his role as speaker for a historic sixth term in 2019.
“I wouldn’t run for re-election if I didn’t think I’d have a leadership role,” Straus said, answering a series of questions from Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith during the Texas Tribune Festival. Straus added that he is sure he has sufficient votes within the House Republican Caucus to secure the position but wouldn’t support shutting out Democrats in choosing the House speaker.


State Rep. Phil King declares candidacy for Texas House speaker (Texas Tribune, 9/22)

John Cornyn says he's supporting Ted Cruz for re-election in 2018 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

After previously withholding his endorsement, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Sunday he's supporting Ted Cruz for re-election in 2018. Cornyn also said he's running for re-election himself in 2020. 
In a joint session with Cruz at The Texas Tribune Festival, Cornyn called the junior senator "enormously constructive" in the Senate and pledged to support him as he seeks a second term. Cornyn said he recently had breakfast with Cruz and they agreed it was important to set aside their differences — mainly on tactics, not policy — in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.


As U.S., Mexico talk tougher on NAFTA, worries grow in Texas (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

It wasn't NAFTA that persuaded Anurag Kumar to base part of his tech company's offices in Mexico, but it sure helped. Kumar liked that Guadalajara, the western Mexican city where a majority of his staff would set up shop, was young, cosmopolitan and had a plethora of hungry, highly educated, English-speaking developers looking to break into the city's booming tech scene. Setting up an office for his Austin-based software development company, iTexico, in a North American time zone would cut costs but keep an ease of communication and travel. "For them, it's like flying to a local city — the proximity, the cultural alignment ... the ease of travel," Kumar said of his American clients.

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