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]
Texas House Passes Plan to Bring Back Corporate Property Tax Breaks for Major Projects, Dallas Morning News [pdf]
"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.” ....