Open for Business

An Examination of Economic Development Transparency in Texas

Government transparency is a vital part of an inclusive and well-functioning democracy, especially when it comes to how our tax dollars are spent. At all levels – federal, state, and local –governments spending and revenue collection should serve the public benefit. Therefore, it is our right to have the necessary access to information that allows us to be knowledgeable citizens, voters, and participants in our government. This includes information about how our state is spending its’ money. Transparency of the public purse matters because it promotes fiscal responsibility, bolsters public confidence in government and deters corruption. This report uses public records requests to examine unreported information about Texas’ two largest economic develop subsidy programs: The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF), which together dispensed almost a billion dollars in subsidies, mostly to private companies. It examines the degree of transparency at these programs and whether the information they provide online allows Texans to hold these programs accountable for their use of tax dollars. It also highlights specific opportunities available to increase transparency and accountability among economic development funds and incentives generally. 


TexPIRG Education Fund