The Texas Emerging Technology Fund will get $50 million to continue operations as part of a budget deal, a state representative said Monday.
Gov. Rick Perry requested $69.5 million for each of the next two years, but negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor’s office reduced that to $50 million over two years, according to state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who is chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The fund, created in 2005, has awarded $194 million to 137 companies and an additional $175 million to help universities recruit top-level researchers or attract federal research dollars.
The Legislature still must decide who’s charge of the awarding the fund’s commercialization grants.
Under House Bill 3162, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker would appoint five members each to a board that would hire a portfolio manager and make the awards to technology companies. The state leaders would continue to make decisions involving university awards.
State Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, said he authored the bill to remove the appearance of political influence affecting the program.
A Senate version of the bill is on its calendar for local and uncontested bills. It would leave the current 17-member board with 13 appointees by the governor and two each by the other state leaders. The governor also would hire the fund manager.
The technology fund has had its share of critics. Perry’s critics have complained that campaign donors have received favorable treatment and a state audit in 2011 criticized the governor’s management of the fund.
The pending legislation also would change the name of the fund and add water as one of the emerging technologies eligible for government assistance.