Here are the next two panel recordings from last week’s Policy Orientation. Please note that the audio files are very large and should only be downloaded via a broadband connection.

* “Boom or Bust? Tax Reform and the New Business Tax” (Presenters: Sen. Dan Patrick, Rep. Dan Branch, Stephen Moore, and Tom Pauken. Moderator: Talmadge Heflin.)

In 2006, lawmakers passed a new business tax in an effort to reduce property taxes for Texas homeowners. Since then, the business tax has come under continued scrutiny as business leaders and policymakers have wrestled with the implications of the new tax. With 2008 upon us, businesses across the state are concerned about what this means for them, and many elected officials have expressed interest in revisiting the new tax. Join our panel as they examine the new business tax and whether it is the right tax policy for the Lone Star State.

* “Is It Any of Your Business? Budget and Spending Transparency” (Presenters: Comptroller Susan Combs, Rep. Mark Strama, and Grover Norquist. Moderator: Talmadge Heflin.)

Texas has become a national leader in making government spending more transparent to the public. In 2007, the Legislature passed landmark transparency legislation resulting in the “Where the Money Goes” feature on the Comptroller’s website, which provides a searchable database of state government spending. What are the next steps in bringing greater transparency to the state budget and spending? Panelists will discuss this initial step toward greater transparency, what it means for Texas and the rest of the country, and what more can be done.