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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bonnen Rebukes Governor's Veto of Brazoria County Legislation

Insider's Report Vol. 7, No. 27

In housing six state prison units, Brazoria County plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of all Texas citizens.  This long-standing relationship with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice fostered one of my most important pieces of legislation this past session.  Through a collaborative effort with TDCJ, Brazoria County Commissioners Court, Brazoria County Airport, and the Economic Development Alliance, I passed House Bill 3202 authorizing TDCJ to transfer to Brazoria County a 332-acre land tract located next to the airport.

I am left both disappointed and perplexed that HB 3202 became one of only 37 bills -- out of 5906 bills passed by the Legislature this session -- to fall victim to Governor Rick Perry's veto pen.  His decision calls into question his ever-present pro-business/strong economy mantra.  This land parcel would have provided Brazoria County with an economic opportunity to attract businesses to the area, create jobs, and increase our tax base, while utilizing and expanding upon airport services.

The Governor chose to ignore a strong agreement among all affected parties that this would be the most effective use of TDCJ's excess and underutilized land.  He failed to consider that this piece of property is small and relatively inconsequential when compared to the vast acreage upon which Brazoria County's prison units are housed.  He neglected to take into account that TDCJ -- whose positive working relationship with the county should not be overlooked -- was a supportive part of the bill's development as it moved through the legislative process.

Governor Perry has clearly disregarded the tremendous economic impact that this development would bring to both Brazoria County and the State of Texas.  It would seem evident that the tax revenue generated by new businesses would quickly overcome any short-term financial loss to the state.  Yet he cited the best interest of state taxpayers in his decision to prohibit this transfer of land.

Perhaps the Governor has forgotten that Brazoria County citizens are state taxpayers, too.