Texas IAF Stands Firm with Legislators That Voted Against House Bill 5
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
DAI: 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]
Medicaid Coverage for New At-Risk Mothers Advances to Senate, with Support from DAI
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: Allow Gun 'Raise the Age' Bill to Be Heard on House Floor
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.
“We know that there’s five hours left to go before this bill — which is a small step but it is a beginning of a good step — will die,” said Sonia Rodriguez of COPS/Metro Alliance. “Something has to be done and it has to be done now.”
After the deadline was missed, COPS/Metro leaders announced "it's not too late for Speaker Phelan to bring it to the floor for debate and vote."
"How many more children have to die before we act?" demanded TMO leader Bishop John Ogletree.
[Photo Credit: Blaine Young, Texas Tribune]
'Raise-the-Age' Gun Bill Misses Crucial Deadline, Texas Tribune [pdf]
Valley Interfaith: Guillen is 'Actively Suppressing' Assault Rifle Age Bill from Reaching House Floor, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Raise the Age Gun Bill in Peril as Texas House Deadline Looms, KXAN [pdf]
Lubbock and Valley Legislators Block Assault Rifle Age Limit Bill, HB 2744, from Reaching the Floor of Texas House, Texas IAF [pdf]
Dallas Morning News Editorial Board Supports DAI Leaders in Fight for Humane Housing Conditions
Reporting bad landlords who won’t fix apartments to maintain adequate living conditions should be easier for Dallas tenants, especially for those who are the most vulnerable because of their economic or immigration status.
It has been a little over a month since this newspaper reported the hazardous conditions endured by Bachman Lake-area tenants, including moldy walls, pest infestations and leaky roofs. This is not a case of “they get what they pay for.” Residents said they are paying up to $1,400 a month, close to the rent average in the Dallas area.
For these tenants, most of them with limited English skills, navigating the city’s bureaucracy to report code violations has been frustrating. They said they rarely see results. “We are not living for free; we are paying,” Bachman Lake resident [and Dallas Area Interfaith leader] Claudia Cruz, 38, told us.
Bachman Lake Tenants Need Support, Dallas Morning News [pdf]
Texas IAF Rally Takes On "Vampire" Chapter 313 Legislation
A surprising legislative success in 2021 is on track to be undone in 2023, unless a grass roots left-right coalition can block legislation and the forces behind it that are trying to go backward....
In the name of jobs and economic development, a 2012 tax code trick called Chapter 313 essentially funneled state money, via school district property tax breaks, to private companies doing new industrial construction. The school districts that granted tax breaks under Chapter 313 were reimbursed — and many still are being reimbursed — by the state, meaning we as taxpayers reimbursed them. It was the ultimate insider game of channeling public benefit to private companies.
The [Texas] Industrial Areas Foundation cleverly brought a man dressed as Dracula to its rally to dramatize how Chapter 313 unfairly drained school districts of funds and that reviving this bad economic development deal would be akin to raising the undead.Read more
DAI Tenant Leaders Highlight Housing Conditions That Need Improvement
Inquilinos de Dallas Denuncian Malas Condiciones en Viviendas, Telemundo Dallas
Texas IAF Orgs Denounce "Vampire" Legislation That Would Suck the Life from Texas Schools
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
DAI Leaders Confront Unbearable Apartment Conditions
On Wednesday, residents will join Dallas Area Interfaith, Bachman Lake Together and Lumin Education in a meeting with city officials to demand solutions to what they describe as “risky and unbearable living conditions” in many units.
“We are ready to speak up, and we are not scared anymore. All the things we went through are helping us to move forward,” said Claudia Cruz, 38, a mother of three children who lives in an apartment in the area. “We are not victims, we are organizers now, and we want the city and those in charge to work with us.”
[Photo Credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco, Dallas Morning News]
Dallas Tenants Counter ‘Unbearable’ Conditions, Dallas Morning News [pdf]
'Recognizing the Stranger' Conference Commemorates 5-Year Organizing Strategy
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