AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry’s deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund would receive a state audit for the first time under a bill unanimously passed by a Senate panel.
The Senate Economic Development Committee on Wednesday approved the measure that would require auditors to closely scrutinize the decade-old program. The Texas Enterprise Fund has awarded more than $485 million to private companies looking to expand or relocate in the state.
Critics have targeted the initiative, and Perry’s similar Emerging Technology Fund, over accountability and impact and a number of deals associated with Perry campaign contributors.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis would require an audit report no later than January 2015.
“It’s unconscionable that, after spending nearly a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money, the Enterprise Fund has yet to be held to the scrutiny of a comprehensive state audit,” Davis said in a printed statement after the vote.
Perry made a rare appearance, ostensibly a coincidence, when he walked in on the hearing before the bill came up for discussion. He didn’t mention the bill, only briefly stopping to exchange pleasantries before continuing to pass through a mostly empty Senate chamber.