It’s not often that the Republican and Democrat parties of Texas agree. But on Monday, the rare opportunity presented itself as the Texas House considered legislation to extend corporate welfare in the state.
Known in political speak as Chapter 313 tax abatements, the program, which is currently in place in Texas, allows school districts to give tax breaks to politically connected corporations while passing the cost—and risk—to taxpayers across the state.
All while the average property taxpayer’s bill has continued to soar over the past decade.
The conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and left-wing Center for Public Policy Priorities both testified in favor of ending the program, calling them an irresponsible use of tax dollars that gives special treatment to corporations above Texas homeowners.
And when the legislation hit the floor on Monday, lawmakers joined together in bipartisan unity … to defy their voters overwhelmingly and extend the program for another 10 years, passing the bill 114-27.
That’s right—despite the platforms of both parties calling for the end of the fiscally irresponsible program, lawmakers extended it. When State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) took to the back microphone to ask author State Rep. Jim Murphy (R–Houston) why the bill was necessary, Murphy pointed out that Texas has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country and, as such, was concerned that businesses would not move to the Lone Star State if they had to pay the bill.
No concern, however, seemed to be displayed for the Texas taxpayers who have been paying those skyrocketing bills while being abandoned by lawmakers who have failed to deliver meaningful property tax reform or relief.
Later in the day, lawmakers also rubber-stamped an extension of Chapter 312 tax abatements, which are given by cities; that legislation passed 119-23.