In Wake of Legislature's Failure on Gun Safety, COPS/Metro Organizes for Local Reform
"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]
Texas Lawmakers Fail the Courage Test on Guns, San Antonio Express News [pdf]
Medicaid Coverage for New At-Risk Mothers Advances to Senate, with Support from Texas IAF
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]
North Texas Rep. Toni Rose's Bill Would Add Coverage for new At-Risk Mothers, Again, D Magazine [pdf]
Texas IAF: Resurrecting Tax Giveaway Program is a Bad Idea for Texas
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]
Paying for the 'Texas Miracle', Dallas Morning News [pdf]
Texas House Passes Plan to Bring Back Corporate Property Tax Breaks for Major Projects, Dallas Morning News [pdf]
National Catholic Reporter Spotlights IAF Assistance with Synod Process
"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
Texas IAF Halts Chapter 313 Deals in Austin and Dallas
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."
Austin ISD School Board Rejects Tax Break for Semiconductor Company, Fox 7 Austin
Austin ISD School Board Denies Tax Break for Semiconductor Company NXP with Narrow Vote, KVUE ABC
Austin ISD Board Considers Chapter 313 Tax Break for Semiconductor Company NXP, KVUE ABC
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
AISD Board to Vote on Contested Tax Breaks for Billion-Dollar Semiconductor Company, KXAN
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.”
Dallas ISD Punts Tax Break Ask from Manufacturing Company Ahead of Chapter 313 Expiration, Dallas Morning News
Texas IAF Fight Against Corporate Welfare Featured in The Problem With Jon Stewart
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+.
Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF Persists in Push Against Chapter 313 Corporate Subsidies at State Legislature Hearing
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.
State Lawmakers Discuss Bringing Back Tax Incentive Program for School Districts, KVUE [pdf]
Clock is Ticking on Texas' Chapter 313 Incentives -- and Major Projects May Miss Out, Austin Business Journal [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 Wage, KVUE
No More Hogs at the Trough: Texas IAF Argues that Chapter 313 Tax Incentives Could Break State Bank
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 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]
Report: Samsung Adding Land to $17B Semi-conductor Campus in Taylor, Considering 11 New Facilities, KVUE [pdf]
State Sees Rush of Tax Break Applications as Program Soft Deadline Approaches, KVUE [pdf]
Friends of the Land, Bastrop Interfaith, Oppose Dogwood Creek Solar 313 Application to Elgin ISD, Elgin Courier [pdf]
Austin ISD Moves Forward With Semi-Conductors Agreement, Faces Community Opposition, Community Impact [pdf]
Austin ISD Considering Proposal That Would Help Lower Recapture Payments, Faces Opposition, CBS Austin [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
Samsung Ask Texas Taxpayers To Foot $4.8 Billion Bill For Future School Taxes. Governor Abbott Endorses Biggest Corporate Welfare Deal in Texas History, Central Texas Interfaith
Texas IAF Sounds the Alarm: Chapter 313 Loopholes Will Cost State Billions
Last year Texas IAF organizations led the charge to end Chapter 313, a program that had given away $10 billion in windfall tax breaks for corporations. However, hundreds of Chapter 313 applications are being filed in the rush to get in before the end of the program, including some with projects slated for decades from now.
“It’s like hogs at the trough,” said Bishop John Ogletree, an official with the faith-based Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, which has opposed the arrangements.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and interest groups have begun discussing how to craft a replacement during next year’s legislative session to keep the tax breaks flowing.
The Chapter 313 deals — named for their location in the state tax code — let companies slash 10 years worth of school property tax bills they otherwise would owe on newly constructed factories and energy projects.
Over the past decade the state comptroller’s office has received an average of about 90 applications annually from companies seeking the subsidy.
Since the Legislature adjourned at the end of May 2021, by comparison, records show companies have filed requests for more than 460 new tax breaks — about 400 in the past five months alone.
Typically, companies sought Chapter 313 tax breaks for projects two to four years in the future, with the occasional oil and gas facility taking six or seven years to complete. Since last May, however, companies have applied for 120 of the subsidies for facilities not scheduled to open until at least 2028. At least 10 won’t be online for a decade or more.
Despite the program’s demise, applicants “have figured out how to extend it,” said Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith, of Central Texas Interfaith.
Their strategy seems to be, “Just in case, let’s get 10 years of requests in in one year,” added Bob Fleming, of The Metropolitan Organization, the Houston branch of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation. “I don’t know anybody who can forecast their needs 30 years out.”
....by slow-walking the end of a program they said was giving away too much money to corporations at the expense of Texas taxpayers, legislators have now put the state on the hook for billions of additional tax breaks that Texans will be paying off well into the middle of the century.
[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle]
Lawmakers Killed a Costly Corporate Tax Break Program, but Loopholes Will Still Cost Texas Billions, Houston Chronicle [pdf]