Rep. Kevin Brady And Conroe Company Make Cases For Tax Reform

As some lawmakers in Washington look for ways to revamp the nation's tax code, one local company says adjusting the tax system to make things simpler and easier to navigate could actually create more jobs in Houston. They claim a tax code revision might make Texas even more business-friendly than it already is.

The Ball Manufacturing Plant in Conroe runs non-stop. It's where 2 billion aluminum cans are made every year. That's about 6 million cans rolling off the plant a day.

Woodlands Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, was impressed with the operation. He says companies like Ball could benefit from things like a simplified tax code.

"America's now got the second highest tax rate well no, the highest business tax rate in the world, that makes it very tough. The way we tax, in which we sort of double-tax our U.S. companies when they compete around the world, makes it hard as well. And then often times other countries don't have the same regulatory hurdles and standards as we do, so they can compete in a better field there as well. So, it's a challenge."

While the Texas business climate is one Gov. Rick Perry loves to tout, Brady says it could be better.

"From the standpoint of what we hear across the country is very consistent with what we hear here in Texas, which is manufacturing creates great paying jobs. It's really competitive. And so when Washington makes changes in healthcare, or in regulation or in taxes, it can really make life difficult for them. That's the message I heard and we're going to carry [it] back."

aluminum cans ready
At the Ball Manufacturing Plant finished aluminum cans are ready for shipment.

Ball Corporation is a 130 year old company and growing. Vice President Jim Peterson says while they're able to fill the need outside the United States, local regulations make it a challenge.

"Cost of capital goes where the greatest return is, and what's happening is more and more of that cost of capital is cheaper internationally. So we've invested in Brazil and Europe and Asia to make product for local, but because the returns are greater than the U.S., because of a huge cumbersome tax code, that it's just very difficult."

While most understand that manufacturing means jobs, but Peterson says it's not right when companies spend more money in compliance than employee benefits.

"Every time we talk to a representative, it's always somebody else's fault. And so what we're trying to hold our representatives to the fire, it's everybody's fault, and we got to get these things corrected, and get people back to work."

There is a bipartisan effort underway to reform the tax code, the core of which was put in place in 1986, but has not had any major revisions since then.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...