As a supporter of Texas public schools and as a taxpayer, I oppose all school districts giving property tax breaks to major corporations under the state's failed Chapter 313 program. Small businesses and ordinary taxpayers have to foot the bill when companies are given school district tax giveaways. Chapter 313 takes $1 Billion in taxpayer dollars each year and gives it to major oil, gas, energy and manufacturing companies, money which could be going to public schools.
The program was not reauthorized last legislative session due to bi-partisan opposition of legislators, the Texas IAF, and allies. Chapter 313, which will end December of 2022, should not be revived by the legislature, and school districts (governed by elected school board members) should refuse to grant any more of these corporate tax exemptions this year. Since the current program will end in December 2022, there has been a rush of over 500 applications from Major Oil, Gas, Energy and Manufacturing Companies for over $10 Billion in school tax breaks.
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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.
Clock is Ticking on Texas' Chapter 313 Incentives -- and Major Projects May Miss Out, Austin Business Journal [pdf]
Last summer, Central Texas Interfaith/Texas IAF leaders and nonprofit allies shut down Chapter 313 (a state tax exemption program giving away hundreds of millions of dollars per year to industrial and petrochemical companies). Since then, over 400 corporate applications flooded the system ahead of the program's expiration date at the end of this year -- more than twice as many than before. Central Texas Interfaith leaders took to every medium available to raise the alarm about the potential impact on school district budgets across the state.
[Excerpts from Austin American-Statesman]
"It's fiction," said Trenton Henrichson, a computer engineer and a leader of Central Texas Interfaith, a group that is opposed to the incentives. "If you're talking about (fabrication plants) 10 years in the future... you’re just making stuff up.”
....Leaders of Central Texas Interfaith called such applications "smoke and mirrors," saying the plans are fuzzy and local officials have no way to evaluate them. The organization helped lobby against renewal of the Chapter 313 program during last year's session of the state Legislature, saying the corporate tax breaks granted under it have decreased the amount of money available for public education in the state.
'Smoke and Mirrors' or Long-Range Planning? Possible Samsung Tax Breaks Stir Debate, Austin American-Statesman
What Could Epic Samsung Expansion Mean for Central Texas? Opportunities Savored, Concerns Raised, Austin Business Journal
CTI Leaders Take Hard Stand Against NXP's Corporate Welfare Request to AISD, Community Impact, CBS Austin, Austin Business Journal, Austin Chronicle, and Austin Independent School District
When NXP sprung a request for a Chapter 313 tax subsidy before the Austin Independent School District, Central Texas Interfaith leaders decided to descend upon a meeting of the Board of Trustees to ask them to reject the request. Chapter 313 tax subsidies are 10 year tax breaks to major gas, oil and manufacturing corporations that drain $1 Billion from state coffers on an annual basis. In response to a barrage of 20 CTI leaders testifying over the phone and in person against the tax giveaway, NXP (the company requesting the subsidy) changed the number of promised jobs on their application during the meeting from the statutory minimum of 25 to 500 overall.
The majority of community members who provided testimony on May 19 asked the board to vote against the Chapter 313 agreement with NXP. Many speakers were members of Central Texas Interfaith, a nonpartisan coalition of congregations, schools and unions that opposes Chapter 313.
“Hardworking taxpayers don’t get this kind of giveaway. Nor do small businesses, or responsible corporations,” said Central Texas Interfaith leader Trenton Henderson. “We want our money to go to public schools, but not to pay the bills for corporations shirking their responsibility to public education. Without a Chapter 313 agreement, NXP would have to pay their full share of school taxes.”
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]
Statement on Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD Chapter 313 Votes, Central Texas Interfaith
Oped: Don't Ask Texas Schoolchildren to Fund Your Corporate Expansion, Austin Chronicle [pdf]
AISD Board Meeting Broadcast, Austin Independent School District [calls begin at -2:33:30, in-person testimony at -1:52:30]
NXP Semiconductors, which is based in the Netherlands and has two fabrication plants in Austin, is seeking tax breaks from the Austin Independent School District under the state's Chapter 313 incentive program for proposed expansion. An initial presentation to the district's board Tuesday night didn't specify the amount, but previous incentives agreements from Texas school districts for similar Chapter 313 deals have been for tens of millions of dollars.
The Chapter 313 incentives program — which is named after a portion of the tax code — has been controversial. It's set to expire at the end of this year because state lawmakers declined to renew it during last year's legislative session, although deals struck before then won't be affected....
Under the Chapter 313 program, school districts are reimbursed by the state for the corporate tax breaks they agree to provide. That attribute has made Chapter 313 controversial among critics who say school districts have no reason not to grant them, and that the program siphons money from taxpayers statewide as handouts to corporations.
“There's no such thing as free money," said Doug Greco, lead organizer with Central Texas Interfaith, a group that opposes all Chapter 313 deals and has worked to help end the program.
“It's money that is being drained out of the state budget that could be going to schools," Greco said. "When you add these (deals) up, it's just a drain on the system that we can't sustain. Let's stop the gold rush here."
[Photo Credit: Mark Matson, Austin American Statesman]
Chipmaker NXP Considers Austin for $2.6 Billion Expansion, Up to 800 New Jobs, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
When organizers set out to overturn Texas’s giveaway program for the oil and gas industry, they had a long game in mind. Over 20 years, the tax exemption program known as Chapter 313 had delivered $10 billion in tax cuts to corporations operating in Texas — with petrochemical firms being the biggest winners. This year, for the first time in a decade, the program was up for reauthorization. Organizers decided to challenge it for the first time.
At the beginning of last week, as Texas’s biennial legislative session approached its end, the aims of organizers remained modest. “We thought it would be a victory if the two-year reauthorization passed so we could organize in interim,” said Doug Greco, the lead organizer for Central Texas Interfaith, one of the organizations fighting to end the subsidy program.
At 4 a.m. last Thursday, it became clear that something unexpected was happening: The deadline for reauthorization passed. “The bill never came up,” Greco told The Intercept. Organizers stayed vigilant until the legislative session officially closed on Monday at midnight, but the reauthorization did not materialize....
“No one had really questioned this program,” said Greco, of Central Texas Interfaith. The reauthorization was a once-in-a-decade chance to challenge it. “We knew in our guts that the program was just a blank check, but we also are very sober about the realities of the Texas legislature.”
....As legislators met in a closed session to hammer out the bill, Greco heard from a colleague. “One of my organizers said there’s 20 oil and gas lobbyist standing outside this committee room,” he recalled.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, an Energy Transfer board member, tweeted his support for reauthorization. But as last week of the session ticked by, the bill didn’t come up. “It became clear that the reputation of the program had been damaged,” Greco said.
In 19 months, Texas’s subsidy program will expire, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
“We know there’s going to be a big conversation over the interim — we are under no illusions that this is not going to be a long-term battle.”
Organizers, though, recognize that the subsidy’s defeat marks a shift: “The table has been reset.”
The Unlikely Demise of Texas’ Biggest Corporate Tax Break, Texas Observer [pdf]
In Blow to Big Oil, Corporate Subsidy Quietly Dies in Texas, The Intercept [pdf]
Texas Legislature Dooms Chapter 331, Which Gives Tax Breaks to Big Businesses, Business Journal [pdf]
Missed Deadline Could Doom Controversial $10B Tax-Break Program, Houston Chronicle
Losers and Winners from Chapter 313, Central Texas Interfaith