Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2021

Corridor Interfaith Leaders Secure 10% Boost in Hays Co. Investment in Capital IDEA

In meetings with Hays County Commissioners, Corridor Interfaith leaders in Central Texas emphasized the importance of workforce development in one of the fastest growing counties in the county.  The Commissioners Court responded, increasing its public investment in long-term job training by 10% to $55,0000 in the upcoming fiscal year.  

Capital IDEA graduate Mary Helen testified, saying: "After working as a paramedic... I went back to college and earned my RN degree. I currently work as an ICU nurse at Ascension Seton Network and provided care to the first COVID patients in our region."


Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF Persists in Push Against Chapter 313 Corporate Subsidies at State Legislature Hearing

[Excerpt]

The Chapter 313 program, authorized in 2001, allows Texas school districts to cap the taxable value of a property for some new projects, saving companies tens of millions of dollars in taxes, or more. It is set to expire at the end of December, after a bipartisan coalition in 2021 stopped efforts to reauthorize the program.

Critics of Chapter 313 call it corporate welfare that deprives Texas public schools of funding....

The Rev. Miles Brandon of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church in Round Rock spoke in support of ending the program for good. He appeared on behalf of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation and Austin Interfaith, both community... groups.

"We draw a hard line at using school funding for corporate tax funding," Brandon said at the hearing. "In our minds, it is shameful to take money from school children to line the pockets of wealthy corporations. It seems like greed of biblical proportions. Economic development should never be a threat to the well-being, competitiveness and growth of our most precious, God-given assets. More precious than fossil fuels, more precious than green energy, more precious than electric cars, more precious than computer chips: our children, whose education and future are being bankrupted by Chapter 313."
[Image Credit: KVUE]

State Lawmakers Discuss Bringing Back Tax Incentive Program for School DistrictsKVUE [pdf]

Clock is Ticking on Texas' Chapter 313 Incentives -- and Major Projects May Miss OutAustin Business Journal [pdf]


Dallas Morning News Editorial Concurs with DAI: Texas Needs to Stop Paying for Subsidies

[Excerpt]

A section of the Texas tax code that is used by local governments as lucre to attract corporate relocations but that often ends up pitting city against city and school district against school district is set to expire.

Based on hearings last week, there will likely be calls to reinstate it in the next Legislature. That would be a mistake....

In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott complained that each job created by this program cost taxpayers $341,000. Using Abbott’s calculation, the Houston Chronicle updated the numbers last year: now every job created by a 313 incentive costs $1.1 million, the paper reported.

What’s more, a 2018 study by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research found that 313 incentives were the deciding factor in fewer than 25% of relocations, meaning three quarters of the time, the relocation would have happened anyway. Taxing districts are leaving money on the table and cities are fighting cities in a game that actually hurts their residents and students....

in many cases, the choice is not between attracting a company to Texas or failing to do so. The choice is between attracting a company to Taylor or Round Rock; Sherman or Plano.

That highlights another problem: 313 favors districts where it’s easiest to acquire land and build facilities. In an analysis by Dallas Area Interfaith, the losers under 313 are large, urban school districts like Dallas ISD.

[Graphic: Dallas Morning News]

Sapped by Subsidies: 313 Deals Hurt Texas CitiesDallas Morning News [pdf]


CBS News: Nehemiah Strategy Makes the American Dream Possible

"Imagination.  With empty lots and abandoned swaths of land, we had to imagine something else."

That is how the Rev. David Brawley, of St. Paul Community Baptist Church and East Brooklyn Congregations/Metro IAF, described the start of what has emerged as "the most consequential community development effort in the country."   

Ted Koppel, with CBS Sunday Morning, interviewed Metro IAF leaders Rev. Brawley and Sarah Plowden of St. Paul, as well as affordable housing developer Kirk Goodrich to tell the story of how imagination and sustained institutional power resulted in a $1.5 Billion wealth-building equity strategy for first-time homeowners in low-income African-American and Latino neighborhoods in East Brooklyn, DC, Jersey City, Chicago and Baltimore. 

It took imagination and power to secure commitments from Democratic Mayor Ed Koch for the cheap purchase of empty city lots and subsidies for building -- as well as from Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani to ensure there was enough money in the budget for the Spring Creek development.   

Over 6,500 first-time homeowners have benefited from Nehemiah housing.  Physical homes may be the foundation, but it is homeowners who have breathed new life into their communities, demonstrating the vitality of the American Dream.

In photos at right: Matilda Dyer from St. Paul's shares her story; affordable housing developer Kirk Goodrich explains why the Nehemiah strategy is the "most consequential community development effort in the country"; Matilda Dyer, describes how her initial application for home ownership was an 'act of faith'; and Sandra and Armando Martinez detail their journey to ownership of the home their call their "palace."

[Image Credit: CBS News Sunday Morning]

Nehemiah: Making the American Dream Possible for First-Time Homeowners, CBS News Sunday Morning

These Chicago Residents are Trying to Revitalize their Neighborhood Without GentrificationWashington Post [pdf]

The American Dream: One Block Can Make All The DifferenceNational Public Radio [pdf]

Behind Brooklyn Neighborhood’s Rebirth, a Woman Who Joined in a DreamNew York Times [pdf]

In a Sea of Foreclosures, an Island of CalmNew York Times [pdf]

Brooklyn Nehemiah Homeowners Associations

St. Paul Community Baptist Church

East Brooklyn Congregations

Nehemiah Spring Creek

Nehemiah HDFC

 


Common Ground's Proposal for Police Oversight Builds Momentum in Vallejo, California

[Excerpt]

While no formal vote was held, the council said it wanted to see more of a model presented by Common Ground, a non-partisan group of religious and non-profit organizations in Solano and Napa counties, which is advocating for a three-prong approach: a civilian police commission, inspector general, and community police review agency.

The commission made up of Vallejo residents would be tasked with overseeing a review agency, which would investigate officer use of force, including fatal shootings by officers, any in-custody deaths, and allegations of racial profiling by officers....

“We believe the above components provide the transparency and the community involvement needed to establish police oversight and are a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community,” said Renee Sykes, a member of Common Grounds public safety committee. “The national spotlight is still on Vallejo, and it will not be shut off until there is a concerted effort on everyone’s part to make a change.”

[In photo: Common Ground leader Brian Farrell addresses city council during special meeting.  Photo Credit: John Glidden, Vallejo Sun]

Vallejo City Council Shows Early Support for Forming Strong Police CommissionVallejo Sun [pdf]

Vallejo Trying to Meet ‘Common Ground’ Concerning Police OversightTimes Herald [pdf]


MVP Advances Ballot Proposition for Housing

After months of work with leaders in the business, non-profit and education communities, Mountain Voices Project and the Glenwood Community Housing Coalition made a significant step forward in pursuing an investment in local workforce housing.

At the urging of MVP, the Glenwood Springs City Council advanced a ballot proposition for a 2.5% increase in the lodging tax to invest in workforce housing with a 6-1 vote.  15 MVP leaders representing seven member institutions packed the city council chambers during deliberation. 

This follows a civic academy at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where residents and stakeholders learned about the potential impact of this initiative.  If approved by voters, the Lodging Tax will increase from 2.5% to 5%, and generate new revenue dedicated for workforce housing strategies. 

Leaders plan to educate voters about the ballot proposition in advance of the election.

Lodging Tax to Go to Voters in Glenwood Springs This FallPost Independent [pdf]


Ready to Work SA Earns Its Hype in San Antonio

[Excerpt from San Antonio Report]

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh heaped praise on San Antonio’s city government for its expansive workforce development program, often called the largest of its kind in the country.  He said he wishes the federal government could do more.

At a roundtable discussion with local industry leaders and city officials Monday, Walsh called SA Ready to Work — the city’s $230 million program aiming to train thousands of low-wage workers for middle-class careers over the next five years — innovative and exemplary for its heavy collaboration with industry leaders.....

SA Ready to Work opened for enrollment in May, though many pre-registered. In the nearly four months since then, slightly more than 5,400 applicants have signed up — nearly fulfilling what the city anticipated to be enrollment through its entire first year.

Outpacing both contractors so far is Project Quest, the jobs training nonprofit that [like SA Ready to Work] sprang out of COPS/Metro.  Project Quest is managing the cases of 112 participants.

[Photo Credit: Alamo Colleges]

Labor Secretary Would Like to See Bigger Federal Investments in Ready to WorkSan Antonio Report [pdf]

U.S. Secretary of Labor visits the Alamo Colleges DistrictAlamo Colleges District [pdf]


Central Texas Interfaith & Labor Allies Raise Austin Municipal Wage Floor to $20/Hr

After hundreds of conversations among workers, labor allies and elected officials, City of Austin voted on a budget that raised the living wage floor for their workers to $20/hr including contracted workers and those employed by corporations benefiting from City tax subsidies.  At the urging of Central Texas Interfaith, the City of Austin furthermore expanded emergency assistance for struggling renters and sustained spending on essential human development initiatives including long-term workforce development and after-school programs that the organization had pioneered.

Specifically, the Council approved: 

  • $20/hour base pay for all City of Austin staff, contract employees and employees of corporations receiving City tax subsidies 
  • $8 Million in emergency rental assistance
  • $3.1 Million for long term workforce development
  • Increased funding for AISD programs including Parent Support Specialists and Primetime After School programs

Central Texas Interfaith commended the Mayor and the City Council for investing in these important initiatives before turning their attention to the County budget.

Austin Councilmembers Approve Budget Amendment to Include $20 Minimum WageKVUE


VIP Makes the Case for In-State Tuition for Arizona Dreamers

Voters in Arizona have the opportunity with Proposition 308 to overturn a law that prevents Dreamers access to in-state tuition at Arizona universities. Rabbi John A. Linder, a clergy leader with Valley Interfaith Project makes the case for in-state tuition for Arizona Dreamers.

62e16f1d47a93.image.jpg[Excerpts]

Prop. 308 would finally let Dreamers — hard-working undocumented young people brought to Arizona from other countries as infants or children through no choice of their own — pay the same in-state tuition rates at Arizona public colleges and universities as their high school peers.

Right now, some 2,000 Dreamers have to pay up to three times as much as their peers. That’s not smart and it’s not right..…

Again, these are OUR kids — Arizona kids. It’s simply not fair that they’ve gone to school all their lives alongside other Arizona kids, under the illusion of fairness, only to find that they’re shut out of an affordable higher education merely because they came here undocumented as children. They had no say in the matter! And yet despite that shaky footing, they’ve proven to be among our state’s finest scholars — and hardest workers.

[Photo courtesy of Rabbi John Linder]


No More Hogs at the Trough: Texas IAF Argues that Chapter 313 Tax Incentives Could Break State Bank

[Excerpt]

Come December 31, 2022, the law that had allowed [major corporations] to keep more than $10 billion in school property tax revenue off the ledgers over two decades will be no more. But companies wasted little time grieving. There was still plenty of life to live after the session ended sine die

Since then, companies have applied for close to 500 tax break deals for projects all over the state—for everything from wind and solar farms, oil and gas processing, carbon capture, and biodiesel production. By comparison, the Texas comptroller received an average of 90 applications annually in the past decade. 

“It’s like hogs at the trough,” said Bishop John Ogletree, a leader with the Houston chapter of the [Texas] Industrial Areas Foundation, a faith-based coalition that helped bring down Chapter 313. “Multi-billion-dollar oil, gas, and tech corporations asking for school districts and taxpayer dollars to bolster their profits. If these applications get approved, it will blow a hole in our state and school district budgets for a generation to come.”

Unsure whether the state will revive or replace the program in the 2023 session, companies have grown increasingly aggressive in trying to lock in future tax breaks for speculative projects that may—or may not—come to fruition many years out. 

Money for Nothing and Your Chips Are Free, Texas Observer [pdf]

No More Hogs at the Trough-Containing Corporate Subsidies in TexasNonprofit Quarterly [pdf]

The Sun is Setting on Chapter 313 IncentivesAustin Business Journal

Companies Lining Up for Future Tax Breaks as Texas Incentive Program Nears EndDallas Morning News [pdf]

What Could Epic Samsung Expansion Mean for Texas?Austin Business Journal

Point Isabel School District Rejects Texas LNG Tax Abatement, Brownsville Herald [pdf]

'Smoke and Mirrors' or Long-Range Planning? Possible Samsung Tax Breaks Stir DebateAustin American Statesman [pdf]

Report: Samsung Adding Land to $17B Semi-conductor Campus in Taylor, Considering 11 New FacilitiesKVUE [pdf]

State Sees Rush of Tax Break Applications as Program Soft Deadline ApproachesKVUE [pdf]

Friends of the Land, Bastrop Interfaith, Oppose Dogwood Creek Solar 313 Application to Elgin ISDElgin Courier [pdf]

Austin ISD Moves Forward With Semi-Conductors Agreement, Faces Community OppositionCommunity Impact [pdf]

Austin ISD Considering Proposal That Would Help Lower Recapture Payments, Faces OppositionCBS Austin [pdf]

NXP Seeking Up To $140 Million in Tax Breaks for School DistrictsAustin-American Statesman [pdf]

Chapter 313 Incentives: What They Are and Why They're Suddenly the Talk of the TownAustin Business Journal [pdf]

Oped: Don't Ask Texas Schoolchildren to Fund Your Corporate ExpansionAustin Chronicle [pdf]

Statement on Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD Chapter 313 VotesCentral Texas Interfaith

Samsung Ask Texas Taxpayers To Foot $4.8 Billion Bill For Future School Taxes. Governor Abbott Endorses Biggest Corporate Welfare Deal in Texas HistoryCentral Texas Interfaith