Op-ed: Samsung Shouldn’t Ask for Incentives

The Rev. Miles Brandon is a vicar at St. Julian of Norwich, Round Rock, and a representative of Central Texas Interfaith, a non-partisan organization of 43 congregations, public schools and unions.

Central Texas Interfaith has drawn a clear line when it comes to taking money from school children to pay for corporate tax breaks. That is exactly what Samsung is asking to do by applying for $285 million in school district tax subsidies from Manor ISD and from Taylor ISD. 

These tax breaks, under an expiring section of the Texas Tax Code called Chapter 313, will be paid for with state tax dollars that could normally go to our children’s education in Central Texas and across the state. This misguided practice needs to stop. We want major employers like Samsung in Central Texas, and when it comes to jobs subsidized with city and county incentives, our position has always been that these jobs should pay living wages with benefits, have a career ladder and a strategy to hire locally. But we have always been against any incentives paid for with school district dollars, like Chapter 313.

In this last session, Central Texas Interfaith and its Texas IAF sister-organizations worked successfully in a bipartisan fashion with members of the Texas Legislature to halt all bills reauthorizing Chapter 313, the state’s largest corporate tax giveaway program. However, the current law remains in effect till the end of 2022. It allows large petrochemical and manufacturing companies, like Dow Chemical Company and Tesla, to forgo paying property taxes to local school districts for 10 years. While local school districts make the decision to grant the tax break, state taxpayers actually pay for the subsidy by reimbursing the school district from the state’s general fund. This perversely incentivizes school districts to approve each and every application.

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