More than 50 Central Texas Interfaith leaders joined nearly 200 clergy and leaders from across the Texas IAF network to participate in a statewide Legislative Advocacy Day on March 21. They addressed several issues important to them, but focused on one, opposing the reauthorization of the Chapter 313 “Vampire Fund” and what they termed any “school-based corporate tax giveaway program.”Read more
The Network of Texas IAF Organizations, a labor and faith coalition that has staunchly opposed using school property tax breaks for incentives... railed against the Texas Jobs and Security Act.
"It looks like it was written on the back of a napkin,"
stated Jose Guerrero, a leader with Central Texas Interfaith from Saint Ignatius Catholic Church.
The organization believes the proposed bill would have even less regulation than Chapter 313, including the exclusion of minimum job requirements as a key factor in a project's eligibility for approval. "It is hard to imagine that they would propose a program with even less accountability, fewer specifics (like no job requirements), and more leeway for companies to take taxpayer dollars from school children to line their pockets," Guerrero stated.Read more
Over 300 leaders, clergy, religious, and bishops from 20 organizations gathered last week in San Antonio to celebrate five years of Recognizing the Stranger, a West/Southwest IAF training, leadership formation, and parish organizing strategy.
The Convocation was highlighted by a video message from Pope Francis, who offered his “closeness and support” to the IAF network and its work to organize with immigrants and with those at the margins to encourage “participation of the Christian in public life.”Read more
"In December, legislators killed a controversial tax abatement program known as Chapter 313, but its effects will last decades....
“There’s no accountability at the statewide level; nobody administers it,” said Bob Fleming, an organizer with [T]he Metropolitan Organization of Houston who campaigned against Chapter 313 reauthorization back in 2021. “A bunch of local school districts make singular decisions based on what they think is in their interest. Nobody is looking out for the statewide interest. Local school districts are overmatched when the $2,000 suits walk into the room.” ....
“It’s a perverse incentive,” said Doug Greco, lead organizer at Central Texas Interfaith, one of the organizations that helped shut down reauthorization of Chapter 313 in the 2021 legislative session.
“We approach it on a school funding basis,” said Greco, who is already gearing up to fight any Chapter 313 renewal efforts in 2023. “It’s corporate welfare and the people who pay over time are Texas school districts.” ....
"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]
As the December 31st expiration date for final certification of Chapter 313 tax break applications approaches, Central Texas Interfaith calls on the state comptroller's office to not rush into certifying the nearly 200 potential project applications still in the pipeline, including Samsung and NXP. The looming deadline does not give nearly enough time for school boards and community members to properly evaluate any more deals. It is time to turn the page.
[Excerpts from Austin Business Journal and Austin America Statesman]
"A vote has been delayed on whether to grant NXP Semiconductors NV property tax abatements that could aid its expansion of manufacturing facilities in Austin, edging the request very close to an end-of-year deadline...
The looming loss of the program has been lamented by many members of the business community, but because it limits public school property taxes, Chapter 313 has been opposed by some community organizations, including [Central Texas Interfaith, formerly known as] Austin Interfaith. 'While we want economic development and good jobs in Central Texas, Chapter 313 prohibits school boards from requiring high living wage and worker safety standards as part of these agreements, unlike city and county incentives in which good job standards can be negotiated,' Central Texas Interfaith and other progressive groups said in a Nov. 17 statement calling for AISD trustees to vote against the deal."
"With the expiration of Chapter 313 fast approaching, representatives of Central Texas Interfaith, an organization that has opposed the program because of its impact on statewide school funding, said the comptroller's office shouldn't be rushed into certifying the applications in the remaining backlog, 'given the billions of taxpayer dollars that are at stake.'
In addition, 'any application certified at this point (almost at Thanksgiving) does not give local taxpayers and school boards nearly enough time to properly deliberate and make decisions on these decades long obligations,' said the Rev. Miles Brandon, clergy leader with Central Texas Interfaith. 'It's time to turn the page on this failed program.'
Central Texas Interfaith and other critics of Chapter 313 have said the program has slipshod oversight and guidelines, calling it a mechanism for taxpayer-funded giveaways to corporations at the expense of statewide funding for education."
[Photo Credit: Arnold Wells, Austin Business Journal]
Decision on NXP's Chapter 313 incentives in Austin Coming Down to the Wire, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
As End of Texas Tax Break Looms, Fate Unclear for Billions in Potential Projects, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
We, the undersigned, call on all AISD Trustees and Trustees-Elect to end consideration of NXP’s $100Million Chapter 313 property tax break application to the Board. While we want economic development and good jobs in Central Texas, Chapter 313 prohibits school boards from requiring high living wage and worker safety standards as part of these agreements, unlike city and county incentives in which good job standards can be negotiated. Chapter 313 is a failed corporate giveaway program that was killed in the last legislative session by Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF, the Texas AFL-CIO, and other union and advocacy groups. Central Texas Interfaith calls on all AISD trustees to vote against NXP’s Chapter 313 application to the Board.
Chapter 313 is Texas’ largest corporate welfare program which costs taxpayers over $1 Billion annually, money which could be going to public schools and other public needs. Not only do corporations get out of paying most of their property taxes (for 10 years) they would otherwise owe for our schools, but the state must replace that revenue with taxes collected from all Texans. The current legislation ends in December of 2022, which has led to a “gold rush” of over 450 applications, which could cost taxpayers as much as $10 Billion/year. Not only do state taxpayers foot the bill for this with state taxes; over time, local taxpayers and businesses will also be paying more. With the support of Central Texas Interfaith and its sister organization Valley Interfaith, school boards in Elgin ISD and Port Isabel ISD school have rejected Chapter 313 applications, as well as several other districts. We urge AISD to do the same....
“While we want economic development and good jobs in Central Texas, these agreements prohibit school boards from enacting high living wage and worker safety standards as part of these agreements, unlike city and county incentives, in which good job standards can be negotiated,” said Carlota Garcia of the Central Texas Interfaith organization.
Garcia said these agreements are “Texas’ largest corporate welfare program, which costs taxpayers over $1 billion annually—money that could be going to public schools and other public needs. The state must replace the revenue that the corporations get out of paying in property taxes for 10 years by collecting more taxes from all Texans.”
“We’re not anti-economic development,” said the Rev. Miles Brandon of St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church and member of Central Texas Interfaith. “We believe that all of the dollars we can possibly put together in this state should go to educate our children.”
-Austin Business Journal
“We are a part of the AISD community,” Brandon said. “We implore you to choose your advocates and partners over corporations. It makes certain there will be $100 million less to fight for. It is in our children’s best interest now and in the future.”
-Austin American Statesman
[Photo Credit: Community Impact]
Possible Chapter 313 Agreement Between Austin ISD, NXP Draws Criticism, Community Impact [pdf]
Austin ISD to Vote on NXP Semiconductor's $100M Tax Break, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Time Ticking for Austin School Board to Vote on Proposed Tax Breaks for NXP Semiconductors, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
The AISD board is scheduled to vote on a $100 Million Chapter 313 school property tax break to NXP corporation at its Thursday, Nov 17th meeting, with a board information session scheduled for Thursday Nov. 10th. While we want economic development and good jobs in central Texas, Chapter 313 prohibits school boards from enacting high living wage and worker safety standards as part of these agreements, unlike city and county incentives in which good job standards can be negotiated. Chapter 313 is a failed corporate giveaway program that was killed in the last legislative session by Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF, the Texas AFL-CIO, and other union and advocacy groups. Central Texas Interfaith calls on all AISD trustees to vote against NXP’s Chapter 313 application to the Board.
Chapter 313 is Texas’ largest corporate welfare program which costs taxpayers over $1Billion annually, money which could be going to public schools and other public needs. Not only do corporations get out of paying the property taxes (for 10 years) they would otherwise owe for our schools, but the state must replace that revenue with taxes collected from all Texans. The current legislation ends in December of 2022, which has led to a “gold rush” of over 450 applications, which if passed could cost taxpayers as much as $10 Billion/year.
WEAK/NONEXISTENT JOB AND WORKER SAFETY REQUIREMENTS IN CHAPTER 313
- Chapter 313 has NO wage, job creation, or worker safety requirements for construction and building trade jobs.
- For permanent jobs, Chapter 313 has extremely weak job creation and wage requirements, and no workers safety requirements.
- Companies are only required to create between 10-25 permanent jobs regardless of the size of the tax break.
- These jobs are only required to meet 110% of the median manufacturing wage.
- There are no worker safety requirements required by Chapter 313.
- The Comptroller routinely grants waivers even to these weak requirements.
- School boards are prohibited by law from enacting stronger wage, job creation, and worker safety requirements.
NXP APPLICATION TO AISD FOR CHAPTER 313 AGRREMENT
- NXP (formerly Motorola/Freescale) is Dutch multinational Chip Manufacturer with nearly $11 Billion in annual profits is asking for over $100 Million in school property tax breaks over the next 10 years to expand its operation in Austin. Ordinary taxpayers, small businesses, and most other corporations do not get these tax breaks.
- In its initial applications to the AISD board, NXP promised only 50 jobs in exchange for its tax break, at a cost to taxpayers of $2,000,000/job. After being called out by CTI, the company changed the jobs promised to 500 on the night of the initial board meeting, but still short of the 800 it had promised in the media.
- Central Texas taxpayers will be investing in 3 major bonds (AISD, ACC, City of Austin) and are facing rising Austin Energy rates and other inflation costs. Now is not the time to grant tax breaks to billion-dollar corporations.
- NXP is free to approach the city and county for tax incentives, entities which have much higher job creation and worker safety requirements. They also have the newly passed federal CHIPS Act available for them to pursue public funding. Unlike Chapter 313, these programs do not take potential funding from schoolchildren.
Bastrop Interfaith and Friends of the Land, a farmland preservation coalition, worked with local Elgin residents and landowners to defeat a 10-year Chapter 313 corporate tax abatement at the Elgin ISD School Board last night by a unanimous vote. Solar Proponents, a startup owned by an oil and gas hedge fund, would have clear-cut over 2,100 acres of trees bisected by Little Sandy Creek to build an industrial solar farm. While the community had been testifying monthly since May at the school board meetings against the project, last night was the first time the public got to hear from Solar Proponent about the project. Speakers argued the project endangered Greenbriar Community School and neighboring homes with water runoff in an area already prone to flooding with an already diminishing refuge for wildlife.
“In these past six months, we haven’t heard a single person speak in favor of this project. Compare that to more than 1100 signers of our petition to stop this project and all the comments here you have so patiently listened to since then,” said Skip Connett, a leader with Bastrop Interfaith and founder of Friends of the Land at last night’s school board meeting.
“We spoke for our communities and our trees. Our school board listened,” Connett said after the vote.
This past May, Bastrop Interfaith and Friends of the Land, one of its member institutions, opposed the initial Chapter 313 application which would have given the company a 10-year school property tax abatement from Elgin ISD. Chapter 313, Texas’s largest corporate welfare program, costs taxpayer $1Billion/year to fund these tax breaks, money which could be going to public schools. Chapter 313’s reauthorization was killed last legislative session by Bastrop Interfaith and the Texas IAF along with allies. However, the program doesn’t expire until this December, and there has been a rush of nearly 500 applications by companies looking to get tax breaks before the deadline.