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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Bell op-ed for eliminating the revenue cap

More like this, please. A decade ago, Houston voters restricted city property tax revenues to the combined rates of inflation and population increases. Like most arbitrary rules that politicians apply to math, this revenue cap sounds like a great idea until it meets the realities of a growing and expanding city. During the Great Recession, […]

Why revenue caps suck

I’ve been expecting this. Despite a booming economy that is the envy of much of the nation, the city of Houston could face hundreds of layoffs and cuts in service next year as it runs headlong into a revenue cap put in place by voters a decade ago. Mayor Annise Parker sounded the alarm Thursday […]

It’s not so cheap to live in Houston any more

It’s the downside of a hot job market and an improving national reputation for being a cool place to live. Business and city leaders often tout the Houston region as one of the most affordable markets in the country. But first-time homebuyers like the Schaefers are finding that image increasingly outdated. “We are in a […]

The Texas Miracle that wasn’t

Washington Monthly’s Phillip Longman takes a closer look at the claims made by the likes of Rick Perry about Texas’ economic success, and finds them largely wanting. Here’s a taste: It’s hard to think of any two states more different than Texas and Vermont. For one, Texas has gushers of oil and gas, while Vermont […]

How much does it cost to really live in Houston?

Good question. So what does it cost to secure an “adequate but modest living” in the Houston area? According to the Economic Policy Institute, it requires an annual income of $63,600 for a family of two adults and two children. Health care takes up the biggest chunk – $1,380 each month to pay for insurance […]

Where are all the teenage drivers?

There’s a lot less of them than there used to be. Between 2001 and 2010, Texas added only 2,578 drivers age 16 to 21 while the age group grew by more than 238,000 statewide, dropping the percentage with a license from 62.4 percent to 55.9 percent. Young adults who drive are doing so less often, […]

Cornyn says relax, we won’t do it

Texas’ senior Senator reassures us that Republicans won’t destroy the global economy in order to gain political leverage. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, said in Houston Thursday that Congress will not allow an impasse over raising the debt ceiling to result in the federal government defaulting on its spending obligations. “We will […]

City pension funds make their case

This deserves more visibility than it’s gotten. Representatives of Houston’s three employee pension boards told a Houston City Council committee Monday that the sky is not falling and pleaded with council members to be patient in examining the city’s pension obligations. The presentations from the firefighters’ pension, the municipal employees’ pension and the police pension […]

The Sports Authority’s finances are back in the news

I still have no idea whether this is something we need to worry about or not. The firm that insures the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority’s $1 billion in bonds – sold to finance the homes of the Texans, Rockets and Astros – is calling on the cash-strapped authority to bolster its depleted reserves and warning […]

Horse’s head sold separately

Shorter John Cornyn: “Unless President Obama gives us Republicans everything we want – and we insist that he be the one to come up with the list of things that we want, so we can attack him for it in the next campaign – we are going to destroy the global economy, because it’s the […]

Your other one-minute real estate update

Basically, real estate good in Houston. Inventory of homes for sale has fallen to a level not seen in more than a decade. Builders are trying to keep up with a growing demand from buyers relocating here for jobs. Realtors are going to new lengths to find properties for their buyer clients. A letter from […]

The Houston Food Bank could use your help

Times are tough, y’all. Despite a growing demand, food banks, charities and pantries face a dwindling supply of products to distribute to Houston’s hungry this holiday season. Food banks in Houston and across the country have less to give away because the federal government is purchasing fewer excess farm products to stabilize agricultural prices. At […]

The hospitality industry industry’s effect on the economy

I had the opportunity recently to attend a presentation by the Greater Houston Restaurant Association (GHRA) of a study they sponsored of the economic impact of the hospitality industry in Harris County. Here’s the high level view: The study found Houston’s hotels, restaurants and drinking establishments make significant annual contributions to the local economy. The […]

Beer is still a job creator

We really owe a debt of gratitude to beer, in particular to microbrewers. Saint Arnold Brewing Co., the city’s oldest craft, has 43 employees and is in the midst of hiring at least three more, founder Brock Wagner said. That is about double the staff before production shifted to a new brewery with more capacity […]

Cutting spending is always good for job creation

It must be true. A study by the University of Texas at San Antonio estimated that 20 counties in the Eagle Ford Shale supported 47,097 full-time jobs in 2011, a number that’s expected to grow to 116,972 full-time jobs by 2021. For now, many of the jobs in demand are for truckers. And a pay […]

Regent Square gets off the ground

This has been a long time coming. More than five years after announcing plans for the 24-acre Regent Square project off Allen Parkway, GID Development Group has begun construction on the first building, a 21-story apartment tower called The Sovereign. [...] GID said it remains committed to Regent Square, which is to go up in […]

Galveston passenger rail back on track

Sorry about the pun, they can be hard to avoid when writing these titles. Anyway, the on-again, off-again Houston to Galveston rail line is apparently on again. A Houston-to-Galveston passenger rail line postponed indefinitely after the economy hit bottom in 2009 is getting another chance, but it could be a decade or more before the […]

What will the excuse for austerity be now?

We’re in the money, as it were. Comptroller Susan Combs on Wednesday released updated details of how much money Texas is expected to collect in taxes and fees in fiscal year 2013, which begins on Sept. 1. The report, prepared as Texas seeks $9.8 billion in short-term loans, indicated that the state will bring in […]

From the “If pigs had wings” department

It’s never a bad time to construct a counterfactual. What if Rick Perry had never said, “Oops”? What if he could have, for Christ’s sake, just remembered that he had wanted to gut the Department of Energy? What if he hadn’t climbed into a tan coat and Brett Favre jeans and released that abominable Youtube […]

Revenues rise, but reality recognition doesn’t

Good news and bad news, because we can’t have one without the other. The latest bit of positive fiscal news came Tuesday when the state comptroller released numbers showing that business tax collections in Texas had exceeded projections. Comptroller Susan Combs had estimated that the franchise tax paid by businesses would bring in about $4 […]

The Mayor’s 2013 budget

What a difference a year – and better sales tax receipts and a better real estate market – makes. Mayor Parker has unveiled her budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and it promises no service cuts, no layoffs, and no tax increase. Last year, the city issued 764 pink slips and cut services as budget […]

A good year for real estate

Good news. Area housing prices will rise this year amid a strong local economy and a limited supply, economist Ted C. Jones said Tuesday at an annual symposium on real estate and the economy. Apartment rents could go up as much as 10 percent, which will encourage more people to become homeowners. The median price […]

A deluxe efficiency in the sky

The hot trend in real estate is small apartments. Apartments in Houston are shrinking. As rents have gone up, developers have been building smaller units and a lot more of them to meet growing demand from apartment dwellers who want to live in cool new complexes but can’t afford larger units. In many new properties, […]

It’s not so easy being green

For cities, anyway, at this time. College Station, the maroon-hued home of Texas A&M University, is finding it is not easy being green. Four years after launching an ambitious local effort to fight global warming, city leaders say their high hopes have fallen to hard economic realities, forcing them to abandon their green-at-all-costs approach. The […]

Better budget news

For the city. The city of Houston may have $21 million more in income in the coming fiscal year than it had planned on before Wednesday. That’s when it got the news that the Harris County Appraisal District projects that taxable values in the city — and by extension, the amount of taxes it collects […]

Property tax revenues still a year away

Getting better, but not quite there yet. Local governments should not expect an influx of property taxes to solve their budget woes this year, Harris County Appraisal District officials said Tuesday. Assistant Chief Appraiser Guy Griscom estimated the countywide tax base, based on a Jan. 1 snapshot that will be finalized this summer, will see […]

Let’s party like it’s 2007!

Good news: The improving economy and steadily increasing sales tax receipts may mean that we won’t have another budget apocalypse in 2013. Bad news: The Republicans in the Lege will use this as an excuse to avoid fixing the state’s underlying revenue problems. The state’s rebounding economy should help Texas avoid another draconian budget session […]

The Long-Range Financial Management Task Force report is out

A little light reading for your Sunday. The report generated criticism before the figurative ink was dry on it. Union leaders criticized the report before it was even delivered to the mayor, with Houston Organization of Public Employees President Melvin Hughes declaring the report an attack on employees. “It’s not about balancing the budget,” Hughes […]

Doing business downtown

I have three things to say about this. Despite public and private attempts to revive a shopping scene downtown, the retail market has struggled. Some stores like Forever 21 and Books-A-Million have opened, but most of the activity in recent years has come from restaurants and bars. Turnover has been high. Last year, 16 street-level […]

Job growth was good last year

More hopeful news for this year. Boosted by gains in energy, manufacturing and retail trade, the Houston area added 75,800 jobs during 2011, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday. “The numbers are impressive,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston. Improvement appeared […]

More thinking about growth

Since I’ve been carping about not enough talk about growth as a long-term financial management strategy for the city, I am compelled to note this op-ed in the Chron by newly elected HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson and Todd Clark, who are singing from my hymnal. We have to support and grow more local small businesses […]

We’re #9!

Number Nine on The Street’s list of “10 Cities Poised For Greatness In 2012″. Which places us one behind Austin, and one ahead of…Rochester, NY? Whatever. Here’s what they say about our fair city. Houston Throughout the economic crisis, Houston has been the buttoned-down older brother to Austin’s hippie slacker. While college-boy Austin coasts by […]

Military spending is government spending

President Obama recently announced a change in direction for US military strategy in the wake of exiting Iraq, one that will involve some reductions in spending. Much pearl clutching and chin stroking followed. But ongoing tinkering with the nation’s defense blueprint means many Texans could feel the pinch from a planned reduction of at least […]

Thinking outside the box on the city’s finances

We’ve seen the ideas generated by the Long Term Financial Management Task Force, which I thought lacked a certain amount of breadth to its perspective. Here’s a taste of what else might be out there to think about. Good Jobs Great Houston, of which the Houston Organization of Public Employees is a member, held a […]