“Tax breaks should be decoupled from school funding and from school board decision making, period,” said Rev. Miles Brandon, a [Central Texas] Interfaith leader and pastor of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church...
Brandon said the new program is better than what existed previously because it no longer includes direct payments to schools, which he described as a “perverse incentive” for districts to approve deals despite the cost to the state's overall education system. He also said the decrease in the total size of each tax abatement is an improvement over Chapter 313, as is the requirement that each deal must pass the governor's office.
But he said Austin Interfaith will continue to encourage school board members to vote in opposition to any request by a company to participate in the new program...“As we see how this law unfolds, I think we will continue to oppose" applications, Brandon said."
[Photo Credit: Arnold Wells, Austin Business Journal]
EPISO/Border Interfaith Leads Public Outcry Against City Project that Threatens to Demolish Local Homes
“Our community has heard from hundreds of residents who are opposed to this route, and many have just learned in the last few weeks that their homes may potentially be lost,” said Lorena Silvestre, a leader with EPISO/Border Interfaith and local resident.
“Of the three routes proposed, this one clearly hurts the most people who are elderly, Spanish-speaking and on limited income. These are families that built their homes with their own hands. We do not accept the argument that this is the “best route” to alleviate traffic.
This is just the route [the City of Socorro] thinks people will not fight back. They are wrong."
"Our state legislators cannot muster the courage to act on the will of the people. Why? They fear the vocal minorities who have made gun possession an idol worthy of greater reverence than the lives of our fellow citizens. This is an abomination before God.
Frustrated by the cowardice and inaction of the state legislators, San Antonio congregations are now working to reduce gun violence. Under the banner of COPS/Metro Alliance, 175 church leaders united to ask city of San Antonio and Bexar County leadership to create a public education campaign emphasizing gun owners’ responsibility to store their firearms safely and to provide safe handgun storage boxes for vehicles.
It’s past time for lawmakers to come to their senses and listen to the residents they represent."
[Photo Credit: Pictures Left: Rev. Rob Mueller. Sam Owens, San Antonio Express News]
The bill would provide six months of Medicaid coverage to qualifying new moms....and could have a massive local impact.
More babies are born on Parkland’s Health’s insurance plan than in eight states. Extending coverage for those families would improve outcomes for tens of thousands of women in North Texas. Groups like Dallas Area Interfaith, a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-issue group of religious congregations, schools, and other non-profits in Dallas, are working to get the bill passed.
The bill would also be a boon to the state by giving the mothers access to primary care and preventing downstream costs. “HB 12 going to save the state money,” says Dr. Barry Lachman, a pediatrician and ...DAI [leader]. “What we spend in preventive services will pay off for these mothers.”
HB 12 remains in the State Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.
[Photo Credit: iStock]
Chapter 313 was one of the country’s worst examples of crony capitalism, funneling billions in Texas taxpayer dollars to out-of-state interests. The program still costs Texas taxpayers over $1 billion a year in tax breaks to major oil, gas and manufacturing companies — money that could go to educating our children.
Dallas Area Interfaith, the Texas IAF, allies and a bipartisan group of legislators killed the reauthorization of Chapter 313 in the 2021 legislative session. Rather than leaving the program in the grave, industry groups are actually proposing to resurrect Chapter 313 this legislative session and make it worse in the form of House Bill 5.
Last September, in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, industry groups painted an apocalyptic vision of Texas’ economy without Chapter 313. Their statements were based on opinion. Fortunately, we can look to Louisiana to see if their fears are merited.
In 2016, Louisiana reformed its version of Chapter 313, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program. The reforms generated $760 million in new tax revenue for schools and other public entities with no negative impacts on jobs. In fact, capital expenditures grew after the reforms.
Louisiana’s experience mirrors studies on economic development incentives. The Upjohn Institute found that “75% to 98% of the time, the same decision would have been made without the incentive.”
Similarly, a 2017 University of Texas study of Chapter 313 estimated that between 85% and 95% of Chapter 313 projects would have been located in Texas without the incentive. These incentives matter much less than other factors such as the labor force, education, infrastructure and access to markets and materials.
[Image Credit: NewsArt.com/Chris Van Es]
Texas House Passes Plan to Bring Back Corporate Property Tax Breaks for Major Projects, Dallas Morning News [pdf]
State lawmakers and Huston Tillotson students announced their intent to form Texas' first Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus to help provide the state's HBCUs with "necessary resources and support to thrive." This effort is an outgrowth of a three-year partnership between Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) and Central Texas Interfaith (CTI), involving leadership education and preparation of students studying political science. Fannie Akingbala, a leader from Ebenezer Baptist Church, co-chaired the press conference.
HBCU students helped organize the caucus, which hopes to assemble state lawmakers from both the Senate and House who represent, attended or support HBCUs and obtain funding for them "commensurate with the role they have played in developing the prosperity" of Texas...Read more
"They've developed a process of attentive listening over the years, talking to people about their lives and identifying the needs of a particular group," said [Bishop Mark] Seitz. "When we were trying to create a process for the synod, it occurred to me it was exactly the approach they'd long taken."Read more
Central Texas Interfaith
[Excerpt from FOX 7 Austin]
"The Austin ISD school board has voted against a multi-million dollar tax break for NXP, a semiconductor company...
"It is not fair that those who have the greatest ability to pay are the ones who don't want to pay a dime," Rev. Minerva Camarena Skeith of Central Texas Interfaith said.
The tax break called the appraised value limitation, or 313 agreement, lets potential businesses build property and create jobs in exchange for a 10-year limit on the taxable property value for school district maintenance and operation.
"We want more dollars for AISD and for every school district in this state. We want every child to have every opportunity they need," Rev. Miles Brandon with Central Texas Interfaith said."
NXP Fails to Gain School District Tax Incentives for Possible Factory Expansion, Austin Business Journal
With Weeks to Spare, Austin ISD to Vote on NXP Incentives, Austin Business Journal
Central Texas Interfaith Commends AISD Board for Rejecting Chapter 313 Deal with NXP, Central Texas Interfaith [pdf]
Dallas Area Interfaith
[Excerpt from Dallas Morning News]
"Amid pressure from community advocates, the Dallas schools administration pulled a vote to approve a property tax break for a manufacturing company just before trustees were to weigh in on it Thursday night.
The Texas Economic Development Act – commonly referred to as Chapter 313 based on its position in the tax code – will expire at the end of the month. Companies across Texas are rushing to get deals approved with school districts and lock-in tax abatements ahead of the deadline...
“Does it make sense to continue to grant certain large corporations these huge tax breaks?” Dallas Area Interfaith leader Bill deHaas said ahead of the meeting. “We already know that we have a crunch on educational spending.”
Reverend Minerva Camarena Skeith of St. John's Episcopal Church explains to Jon Stewart how Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF organizations fight corporate incentives that negatively impact public budgets, including schools.
“What’s happening right here, right now, very powerful.” -- Jon Stewart
In a Behind the Scenes Cut, Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith describes how communities can organize.
Full episode and panel discussion streaming on Apple TV+.