When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'"
But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.
Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences."
"It was relaxed, it was engaging," said Joe Rubio, national co-director of IAF. "Often you don't see that even with parish priests," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 15, garnering the laughter of other delegates.
Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of Solidarity, US Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service [pdf]
Two Years of Texas IAF Opposition Leads to Reforms to Limit Giving School Money for Corporate Tax Breaks
The Texas Senate and House passed a compromised version of HB5 that still fundamentally represents misguided economic development to the benefit of out of state corporations that would come here for other factors anyway. This perpetuates a corporate welfare state which Chambers of Commerce and industry groups could never prove otherwise.
However, a 2-year campaign by Texas IAF and allies led to some major reforms in HB5 compared to the now defunct and failed Chapter 313 program. When these tax abatement deals are proposed at local school districts, there will now be a fair fight for taxpayers and public school supporters concerned about corporate welfare. HB 5 Reforms to Chapter 313 include:Read more
In Response to Texas IAF Campaign, Senate Includes Significant Reforms in Proposal for Corporate Subsidies
House Bill 5 heads back to Texas House for reconciliation.
We believe that a strong economic development strategy is the result of investments in education, workforce, and strong communities,
stated Edie Clark, a representative of [Central Texas] Interfaith, a nonpartisan organization of religious congregations, public schools and unions that advocates for families and is critical of school property tax incentives. "They voted to continue to support subsidizing corporate welfare on the backs of schoolchildren and taxpayers."
[Central Texas] Interfaith claimed its two-year campaign in opposition to the program helped eliminate direct payments to school districts and increased job creation requirements for Chapter 403
"These reforms were all meant to respond to our criticisms of the program," Clark said. "We commend the senators who had the courage to vote against this failed program. We look forward to seeing what the speaker and House think of this version of the bill."
Texas Lawmakers on Cusp of Reviving School Property Tax Breaks for Big, Expanding Businesses, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Texas Senate Passes Bill Bringing Back Corporate Property Tax Breaks, Dallas Morning News
Statement on Texas Passage of HB 5, Central Texas Interfaith
CREATE 2-YEAR PAUSE TO ASSESS FISCAL IMPACT OF $31 BILLION IN CURRENT CHAPTER 313 TAXPAYER OBLIGATIONS
The Networks of Texas IAF Organizations (Texas IAF) urge Texas Senators to vote NO on HB5, the bill to renew the failed and defunct Chapter 313 program. With just a few days to go before the deadline for the Senate to pass House bills, the legislature has no clear path forward for the state’s costliest corporate tax incentive program, which was ended last legislative session with bi-partisan opposition. HB5 passed out of committee late Sunday with only 6 of 11 votes in favor.
“Though in the past few days there has finally been a real debate on the use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars on corporate giveaways, time has run out to put together an economic development program that protects schools and taxpayers,” said Rosalie Tristan, leader with Valley Interfaith of the Texas IAF. “Legislators and lobbyists had two years to put together a plan, and it’s clear that none exists because school-based corporate tax breaks are a failed strategy that undermines the future of our state.”
BANKRUPTS TAXPAYERS – HB5 would exponentially add to the already $31 Billion in over 900 taxpayer obligated Chapter 313 agreements. $20 BILLION OF THESE AGREEMENTS WERE SIGNED IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS OF 2022 ALONE!
EXPANDS FAILED CHAPTER 313 – Chapter 313 never funded EXPANSION OF EXISTING FACILITIES. HB5 would go beyond relocations and new plants, TO OBLIGATE TAXPAYERS TO POTENTIALLY FUND EXPANSION OF OVER 300 EXISTING OIL, GAS, AND MANUFACTURING PLANTS WITH EXISTING CHAPTER 313 AGREEMENTS!
CONTINUES “STACKING” OF TAX GIVEAWAYS – 72% OF MANUFACTURING PROJECTS (INCLUDING OIL AND GAS) THAT WERE GRANTED CHAPTER 313 AGREEMENTS IN 2022 WERE FOR PROJECTS THAT WON’T BE COMPLETED FOR 6 YEARS OR MORE, AND SOME FOR DECADES INTO THE FUTURE! HB5 Continues to allow companies to hook state taxpayers to pay for projects that start for years down the line, and for which the companies have no obligation to build.
SHIFTS BENEFITS PRIMARILY TO COASTAL PETROCHEMICAL INDUSTRY – While Chapter 313 at least had its benefits disbursed statewide somewhat across rural, suburban, and urban areas, the new qualifications under HB5 would essentially create a regional program where most qualifying projects would be in the petrochemical industry in the coastal region, but paid for by taxpayers ACROSS THE STATE.
“As several members of Senate Business and Commerce Committee pointed out, companies were well taken care of when existing Chapter 313 agreements nearly tripled to $31Billion in the last 6 months of 2022, often for projects decades into the future,” said Fr Miles Brandon of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church in Williamson County. “That’s nearly a generation of tax giveaways. Taxpayers and lawmakers deserve a chance to catch their breath and create a more rational and fiscally prudent approach to economic development.”
*The Network of Texas IAF Organizations are non-partisans; institutionally based community organizations whose purpose is to train leaders to organize families around issues which affect their quality of life. The network includes Communities Organized for Public Service and The Metro Alliance and ICAN in San Antonio, The Border Organization, Valley Interfaith in the Rio Grande Valley; TMO in Houston; EPISO and Border Interfaith In El Paso; Austin Interfaith; ACT in Fort Worth; Dallas Area Interfaith; AMOS - Arlington, The West Texas Organizing Strategy; and Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange.
Press Release [pdf]
Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Network Analysis of Chapter 313 [pdf]
Vote No on HB 5 [pdf]
Texas Industrial Areas Foundation Analysis of "Stacking" Permitted [pdf]
State Senate to Revamp Tax Break Program, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Less than a day after a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles unexpectedly passed through Committee, Texas IAF leaders learned that Representative Guillen (from Rio Grande City) appeared to be actively suppressing House Bill 2744 from being heard on the floor. Delayed submission of the Committee report resulted in the bill missing a crucial deadline for it to put on the Calendars schedule for Thursday -- the last day to hear new bills.
Leaders from across the state held an emergency press conference calling on Guillen and the Texas House Speaker to allow the bill to be heard, and for Calendars.
“Guillen and Burrows should...let the representatives vote their conscience on the House floor. Overwhelmingly, Texans support increasing the age limit of when people can buy assault weapons,” Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith from Central Texas Interfaith asserted.
“We’re very, very angry at what’s going on, with them holding this bill hostage,” Valley Interfaith leader Rosalie Tristan of Raymondville told the Rio Grande Guardian.
"How many more children have to die before we act?" demanded TMO leader Bishop John Ogletree.
[Photo Credit: Blaine Young, Texas Tribune]
Austin Interfaith, a longtime opponent of the program, shared its dismay with a message directed to House Speaker Dade Phelan and the representatives who voted in favor of the bill.
"You managed to bring back the failed and defunct Chapter 313 program and actually make it worse: worse for taxpayers, workers, schools, and the environment," stated Edie Clark, a leader with the organization. "It is now your corporate welfare bill as it heads to the Senate, which is now the only hope to protect Texas taxpayers. The Texas House of Representatives has officially become a fully functioning subsidiary of 'Texas Incorporated.'"
The organization commended local Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Carrie Isaac, Vikki Goodwin, Erin Zwiener, Ellen Troxclair and Lulu Flores for voting against the bill. "We need to protect our children and our schools," Flores said during a March rally in opposition to the bill. "We also need to make sure that we protect everyday working Texans. I'm here to fight for the rights of everyday people I'm proud to lend my hand and do any heavy lifting I need to do to make sure that working people are protected and supported."
[Photo Credit: Austin Business Journal]
Texas House OKs Revised Corporate Tax Breaks to Replace Chapter 313, Austin Business Journal [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
CTI and Texas IAF Return to the Texas Capitol to Fight Big Industry's Efforts to Revive 'Vampire' Corporate Giveaway Bill
"HB5 takes the failed and destructive Chapter 313 corporate giveaway program and makes it worse: worse for taxpayers, worse for schools, worse for workers, and worse for the environment. It is shameful to think that the Legislature might pass an expansion of a failed and corrupt program that benefited multibillion-dollar multinational corporations to the tune of now $31 billion at the expense of Texas taxpayers and 95% of the students in the state. Rather than creating a real economic development strategy, industry lobbyists are taking crony capitalism to its greatest heights in the form of HB5. House Republicans and Democrats need to stop it in its tracks. Texas taxpayers and voters will be watching." - Jose Guerrero, CTI [Central Texas Interfaith] leader - Austin Business Journal
“As a result of this policy, taxpayers are on the hook for an estimated $31 billion, according to the comptroller. In a demonstration analysis of “winners and losers,” the Texas IAF took the $1billion a year that taxpayers spend on Chapter 313 agreements, and instead ran it through the per student funding formulas for each district in the state. We found that 95% of students in Texas are in districts that lose potential funding because corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes due to Chapter 313 agreements.” - Eloiso Davila, EPISO/Border Interfaith leader - El Paso Matters
New Texas Incentives Program Tweaked as It Advances at Capitol, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Opinion: Texas Shouldn’t Bring Back this Corporate Welfare Vampire, El Paso Matters [pdf]
Labor allies, environmental groups and public policy nonprofits have joined the Texas IAF-led effort to oppose the renewal of Chapter 313. And this week, independent editorials opposing the bill have been published by the Houston Chronicle and Austin American Statesman.
[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle]
Coalition of Organizations Oppose HB 5 - Chapter 313 Renewal, Texas IAF [pdf]
Editorial: House Bill Rewards Companies at Expense of Our Schools, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
Editorial: Why Texas' New Chapter 313 Tax Break is Even Worse Than Before, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
House Proposal to Replace Chapter 313 Economic Incentive Program Excludes Clean Energy, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
Pros, Cons of Replacement for Chapter 313 Incentives Vigorously Debated at Texas Capitol, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Dracula from Transylvania (played by Everett Lunning of Central Texas Interfaith) testifies that he loves HB 5 because it has risen from the grave to suck the lifeblood out of the Texas public and economy.