Senate committee proposes audit of Texas Enterprise Fund

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.

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“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.