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
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]
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
Valley Interfaith: Tax Breaks Should Not Be Paid For w/Funds That Could Go to Schools
In the attached audio interview, Rosalie Tristan and Joe Hinojosa, both organizers with Valley Interfaith, Joe Higgs from IAF, and Bob Fleming, an organizer with The Metropolitan Organization of Houston, say tax breaks for large corporations should not be paid for with monies that would otherwise go to public education.
[Photos: Rosalie Tristan (left), Joe Hinojosa (holding sign in center) and Bob Fleming (right)]
Valley Interfaith: Don't Suck Money Out of Public Education to Help Large Corporations, Rio Grande Guardian [audio]
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
'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
Tributes to Fr. Alfonso Guevara Pour In
Tributes Pour In for Valley Interfaith Clergy Leader Fr. Alfonso Guevara, Rio Grande Guardian
Fr. Alfonso Guevara on VIDA Job Training
VIDA is a long-term workforce development strategy established with the political power of Valley Interfaith and leaders like Fr. Alfonso Guevara.
Remembering Fr. Alfonso M. Guevara
Fr. Alfonso Guevara, a long-time clergy leader with Valley Interfaith, passed away on February 10. He was worked for many years to help ordinary men and women develop their confidence and skills people so they could do extraordinary things in the parishes and communities. Here are a few statements made by Fr. Guevara to the Rio Grande Guardian.
Some reflections from Fr. Alfonso Guevara [pdf]
Tributes Pour in for Valley Interfaith Clergy Leader Alfonso M. Guevara, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Guevara: Valley Interfaith Makes the Politicians Look Good, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Push to Get Healthcare District Dollars Allocated to Clinics, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Collins: Investing Millions of Dollars in Economically Distressed Areas, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Rev. Guevara: It Was a Blessing to Participate in Raymondville Drain Groundbreaking Ceremony, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
Nearly 900 Valley Interfaith Leaders Celebrate 30th Anniversary [pdf]
Valley Interfaith, Texas IAF Underscore Lasting Consequences of Chapter 313 Subsidies
"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 district my granddaughter goes to is losing $4 million to $5 million every year,” said Rosalie Tristan, referring to Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District. Tristan is an organizer with the community organization Valley Interfaith who lives north of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.
“They could be using that money to get more teachers for these students,” she said. “For a parent, or for a grandparent raising her granddaughter, it’s a hit in the gut.”
[Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang, The Texas Tribune]
Critics Say State Tax Break Helps Petrochemical Companies and Hurts Public Schools, The Texas Tribune [pdf]