After five leaders of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) spoke in support of placing Harris Health’s $2.5 Billion bond proposal on the November ballot in November, Harris County Commissioners unanimously voted in support of the proposal.
“This bond election represents a critical investment in the future of our community. It is not a burden, but an opportunity to invest in our future. We all benefit from a strong and expanded Harris Health.” said Linda Hollins of Trinity United Methodist and TMO.
“Ben Taub and LBJ Hospitals are the backbone of our health care system in Harris County. Over half of our current physicians have been trained there,” said Ron Cookston of First Unitarian Universalist and TMO.
Over the previous week, TMO leaders met with the Commissioners to express support for placing the bond proposal on the November ballot. “We applaud the County Commissioners for their unanimous vote today,” said Minister Jaqueline Hailey of New Hope Baptist Church and TMO. “Now we all have to go out and educate our family, friends and neighbors about why they should vote YES on the bond to improve our critical healthcare facilities.”Read more
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.
"How many more children have to die before we act?" demanded TMO leader Bishop John Ogletree.
[Photo Credit: Blaine Young, Texas Tribune]
Texas economic development evangelists speak of this program – once known as Chapter 313 but now House Bill 5 – with almost biblical reverence. It may not turn water into wine, but they argue it will at least turn our school property tax dollars into new jobs for years to come.
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
About 80 people representing multiple local Catholic churches and other denominations met at All Saints Catholic Church in the Heights with training sessions in English and Spanish on being called to be “One Body.” They also learned how to lead small groups and listen to identify new leaders. They focused on practical measures such as “pressures on families”....
Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, Archdiocesan director for the secretariat of social concerns, said,
“Historically, people have seen the Church as a refuge. But that has eroded. Now we need to go out to the people and help them with their issues of education, transportation, and housing.”
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]
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
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
"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.” ....
“We pay our taxes. Parents, teachers, grandparents, alumni pay taxes towards our school districts and towards the state. So, we feel that that is something that every body is responsible for,” said Reverend Minerva Camarena-Skeith of St. John’s Episcopal Church."Read more