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Fiscal Notes

Fiscal Notes

A Review of the Texas Economy from the Office of Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts · July 2011

A Letter from the Comptroller

Photo of Susan Combs

Across Texas

  • Exxon Mobil has announced plans for a new campus near The Woodlands. The 385-acre site, which should be completed by 2015, will feature office space, a laboratory, conference rooms, training facilities, restaurants, a child-care facility and an employee wellness center.
  • Houston-based Redstone Companies will build a 318,000-square-foot office facility as well as a “lifestyle” hotel, complete with spa and fitness facilities, in Houston’s Galleria area.
  • Texas’ H-E-B grocery chain is building new stores in Pharr, Granbury and Bryan. All are expected to open in the latter half of 2011; total construction costs for the three projects are estimated at $34.4 million.
  • In the next few years, San Antonio IT hosting and storage firm Rackspace Hosting Inc. plans to triple its work force in Austin, from about 300 to 900.

A fat envelope. It’s what high school seniors across Texas hope to find in the mailbox from their college of choice. If it’s the dreaded thin envelope, a rejection, parents can expect to spend the dinner hour trying to convince their son or daughter that life’s blessings sometimes come well-disguised.

But if it’s an acceptance, it may be the happy young person who’s trying to cheer up the parents, with assurances that he or she will apply for every available grant and take a part-time job to help pitch in on the tab for their education.

Because no matter how much money mom and dad set aside to pay for college, these days it seems like it’s never enough.

Whether they’re staring at four years of tuition or just searching for ways to pay monthly bills on one less paycheck, a lot of families have been having serious supper-table discussions about finances lately. In the wake of the recent recession, citizens all over the state and country are weighing their options, cutting back and making do.

And they expect their governments at all levels to be doing the same. They’re demanding a business-like, bottom-line focus that ensures maximum efficiency and effectiveness. In short, they want to know that their dollars are being spent with discipline and forethought.

That’s the challenge facing Texas colleges and universities as well. They must find new and better ways to operate efficiently and produce graduates fully prepared for the workplace of tomorrow.

In this issue of Fiscal Notes, we speak with Glenn Reynolds, distinguished educator and commentator, on the spiraling costs of getting a college degree — and some of the causes of this daunting increase. We also look at some of the tools and resources available to Texans of all ages who are considering starting businesses of their own.

There will never be a shortage of dreamers who want to test themselves in the marketplace of ideas or commerce. The decisions we’re making today will help give the next generation of Texas innovators and entrepreneurs the chance to live their dreams.

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