In report, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott boasts economic growth, record unemployment

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

By Emma Platoff

The state of our state is strong, Gov. Greg Abbott pledged in a report released Monday.

The 42-page “Report to the People of Texas,” which highlights the status of various industries and projects within the state, paints a rosy picture of progress over the last year: top rankings in business and education, vast population growth and hundreds of thousands of jobs created. Still, it skims over a few major challenges Texas faced in 2017 — including a high-profile, long-enduring lawsuit over the state’s treatment of its foster children and the Legislature’s failure to reach a deal on overhauling its public school finance system.

"Though tested in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and other tragedies, Texas remains the envy of the nation," Abbott wrote.

Texas created 306,900 jobs this past year, the report said, keeping the state’s unemployment rate beneath the national average even as the population swelled.

Abbott credited some of that job growth to the sometimes-controversial Texas Enterprise Fund, a $230 million pot of money the governor can dole out to businesses weighing sites in Texas against other states. That program — which Abbott said “helped to close the deal” on 21 projects in the last two years — was fully funded for 2018–19, although dozens of legislators voted to defund it last year and experts say such financial incentives rarely prove pivotal in companies’ site location decisions.

Abbott also chronicled several advancements in education, including the state’s record high-school graduation rate. He also touted the achievements of a pre-kindergarten grant program that provided “enhanced instruction” to 80 percent of pre-K eligible 4-year-olds in Texas during the 2016–17 school year. But that program lost funding during the last legislative session.

And Abbott touted the state’s creation of a school finance commission to study that issue during the interim. That commission, which met for the first time last week, was formed to study the issue although the House and Senate failed to reach a deal on a school finance overhaul.

The report also praises the Legislature for passing several measures to address one of Abbott’s “emergency items”: reform to Texas’ Child Protective Services. Abbott signed several child welfare bills into law in May.

But the report glazes over a high-profile, multi-year class-action suit against the state of Texas over the way it treats its foster children. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled this month that the state’s foster care system — even after the reforms made during last year’s legislative sessions — requires oversight from federally appointed “special masters.” Attorney General Ken Paxton pledged to appeal that judgment immediately after it was released.

In response to Monday’s report, Texas Democrats sent a news release arguing that “Abbott Cannot Spin First Term Failures,” highlighting what they described as Abbott's failures as governor.

Reporting is provided as part of Community Impact Newspaper’s partnership with The Texas Tribune


Source: Comal County/Community Impact Newspaper
70th change order approved for new Comal County Jail

As the jail nears completion, $908,522 of the county’s $2,471,535 contingency has been used to address change orders.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Phase 3 of his Open Texas plan June 3. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott's June 3 guidelines allow most Texas businesses to operate at 50% capacity

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to lift coronavirus-related business restrictions.

As of June 3, there were 71 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in New Braunfels since the pandemic began. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Comal County COVID-19 case count at 111, Guadalupe County at 148

There were 21 cases of the coronavirus confirmed across both counties since June 1.

Legendary baseball player Nolan Ryan has long enjoyed ranching. Now, he and his team are preparing to open a butcher shop in Round Rock to showcase Goodstock, Nolan Ryan Beef and other Texas-made products. (Photo courtesy Nolan Ryan)
Nolan Ryan to open Round Rock butcher shop and 20 other Central Texas business updates to know

Read the latest news on Central Texas businesses from Community Impact Newspaper's latest coverage.

New Braunfels Utilities will resume collecting late fees and enforcing disconnections on July 1. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact)
New Braunfels Utilities to resume late fees and disconnections for missed payment

Customers have until June 30 to set up a payment plan with NBU.

Census reinstates some field operations in Texas following coronavirus delay. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
Census reinstates some field operations in Texas following coronavirus delay

Operations began in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio beginning May 25.

Well over 100 people participated in the New Braunfels Black Lives Matter protest on June 2. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: New Braunfels residents protest June 2 over the death of George Floyd

Roughly 200 protesters went to Main Plaza in downtown New Braunfels on Tuesday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pillars Christian Learning Center to open new location in 2021

The preschool is for children aged 6 weeks to 4 years.

New Braunfels had 62 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on June 1, up from 31 at the end of April, a 96.7% increase. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Comal County confirms 100th COVID-19 case

The new case is a resident of New Braunfels.

Businesses shuttering their doors due to coronavirus restrictions lowered the sales tax revenue collected by cities in May compared to May 2019. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas comptroller reports 13.2% year-over-year state sales tax revenue drop in May

Tax collection revenue fell significantly in several sectors from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the comptroller's office.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.

Additional New Braunfels facilities reopened June 1. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Additional New Braunfels facilities reopen June 1

The New Braunfels Public Library, some Landa Park facilities and the municipal court reopened June 1 with adjusted hours and additional restrictions.