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.
No More Hogs at the Trough-Containing Corporate Subsidies in Texas, Nonprofit Quarterly [pdf]
The Sun is Setting on Chapter 313 Incentives, Austin Business Journal
Companies Lining Up for Future Tax Breaks as Texas Incentive Program Nears End, Dallas 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 Debate, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
NXP Seeking Up To $140 Million in Tax Breaks for School Districts, Austin-American Statesman [pdf]
Chapter 313 Incentives: What They Are and Why They're Suddenly the Talk of the Town, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Oped: Don't Ask Texas Schoolchildren to Fund Your Corporate Expansion, Austin Chronicle [pdf]
Statement on Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD Chapter 313 Votes, Central Texas Interfaith
Valley Interfaith Project (VIP), along with allied organizations, temporarily averted a $1 billion funding crisis for Arizona public schools. A decades-old spending limit would have required school districts to abide by 1980 spending levels without legislative action. Normally, the legislature would vote to override the limit as a routine procedure. However, partisan brinkmanship, amidst a closely divided legislature, led to individual legislators withholding their votes.
While school district budgets were based on funding that the Legislature had approved last year, this arbitrary spending limit, if left unchecked, would have resulted in massive budget cuts as soon as April 1, 2022. The cuts would have amounted to $1.2 billion statewide, resulting in widespread layoffs or school closures.
VIP leaders met with individual legislators and mobilized a flood of constituent phone calls in key areas. On February 21st, only one week before the statutory deadline, the Senate followed the House's lead and voted to allow school districts to exceed the arbitrary spending limit for the current school year.
While leaders celebrated the last-minute fix, the long-term outlook has Arizona revisiting this crisis every year until voters can repeal the outdated spending limit. VIP leaders hosted a leaders assembly with two senators to explore a more permanent resolution.
[In photo: Revs. Brooke Isingoma and Martha Seaman discuss the spending limit with State Senators Tyler Pace and Sean Bowie.]
"Arizona Senate Votes to Raise Education Spending Limit, Avoiding Big School Funding Cuts," Arizona Republic [pdf]
Over 60 parishioners of St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church attended a Pima County Interfaith Education Civic Academy in which Rev. Leah Sandwell-Weiss and Jane Prescott-Smith delivered background talks on education funding and teachers Shasha Velgos and Katie Fouts, long-time members of the church, shared stories about their schools: Catalina High School and Borton Elementary.
Small group discussions yielded a variety of stories and passionate concern for children and schools. Participants were invited to sign the #Investined petition and start a voting cascade at the close of the meeting.
As part of the statewide effort to reverse disinvestment in Arizona public schools, two teachers presented Governor Doug Ducey with a joint statement calling for increases in teachers' salaries. The joint statement was supported and signed by leaders of Arizona Interfaith, nonprofits and state associations of educators, business, administrators and PTAs.Read more
200 Northern Arizona Interfaith Council (NAIC) leaders, with the Prescott College Social Justice Human Rights Program, assembled with all six candidates of Arizona Legislative District 1 to push for increased funding of public schools across the state. Said Tom Benson, "If we want our community and state to be a desirable place to work, raise a family, as well a retire it must be supported by a strong education system from Pre-K through college."Read more
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance & 'Nevadans for the Common Good' Join Forces for $430M Business Tax Proposal
One week prior, 'Nevadans for the Common Good' met with the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Las Vegas; both organizations voted to support the business license proposal. LVGEA cited a study it had commissioned on the impact of the business license fee proposal, which concluded that the "negligible negative impact" in Southern Nevada would be far outweighed by the benefits of improved public schools.Read more
Key legislative allies in attendance vowed to to protect Medicaid expansion that was won in 2013, re-connect public school funding to inflation and advance new legislation for Respite Care, all part of VIP's 2015 Human Development agenda.
Those that participated in the assembly include: Rep. John Kavanaugh (District 23), Jeff Schwartz and Paula Pennypacker; Effie Carlson, Jay Lawrence, and Bob Littefield; and Michelle Ugenti. District 28 candidates included Senator Adam Driggs and Kelli Butler; and House candidates Rep. Eric Meyer, Rep. Kaye Brophy-McGee and Mary Hamway.Read more