Part of his platform to be the next Texas governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott released detailed initiatives recently that he said would increase job opportunities for veterans.

Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, did not respond to questions or comments by press time.

Besides waiving examination requirements and licensing fees for six technical positions regulated by state agencies, Abbott also is proposing two new tax cuts and another fee exemption geared toward encouraging businesses to employ veterans.

Abbott proposed an optional commercial property tax exemption that could be adopted by local taxing jurisdictions, such as the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County, or by a resident petition.

The optional statute would provide tax breaks for businesses who employ honorably discharged veterans, taking into effect a year after the veteran’s hire date. For each newly hired veteran, the owner of the commercial property would qualify for a $15,000 reduction on the assessed taxable value of their property, the release stated.

“The proposal might help, when coupled with other incentives,” said John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, who reviewed Abbott’s plan. “(The proposed statute) comes to a total of $370 saved on the $15,000 evaluation. A business that does not have a legitimate business need to add an employee will likely not do so for $370.”

Crutchfield said the possible tax exemption would greatly affect Killeen because of the high number of veterans and military servicemen in the area.

While the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County remains neutral on political positions, Marvin Hahn, chief appraiser, said when property value is removed from the roll for any reason, it increases the tax burden on those properties that remain taxable.

Abbott also proposed exempting newly created, veteran-owned businesses from the Texas Franchise Tax for the first five years that the business is in operation, as well as exempting those businesses from business registration fees.

The Texas State Secretary’s Office collects newly created business registration fees ranging from $25 to $300.

The Texas Franchise Tax already exempts all businesses with revenue of less than $1 million per year and generated only 4.8 percent of all state tax revenues in 2013, the release stated.

However, while Texas had 199,476 veteran-owned business as of 2007, there is no data on how many veteran-owned businesses are above the $1 million threshold.

“One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is start-up capital. Every little bit helps,” Crutchfield said, reviewing the recommendations. “While these two proposals won’t generate much capital, the cost reduction does come at a critical time in the life of a business and could make a difference.”

Contact Courtney Griffin at cgriffin@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7559

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