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April 5, 2021      4:30 PM

Effort to overhaul tax incentives for business relocations draws mixed reactions

Many school leaders oppose the bill by Rep. Jim Murphy, but Murphy argues changes are needed: “When it comes to capital-intensive projects, we are non-competitive”

An effort to simplify one of the state’s major incentive programs – Chapter 313 – has minimized the role of school districts and consultants to the point where many school leaders who came to the Capitol to testify opposed House Bill 1556.

Chapter 313, which is set to expire, has shepherded $217 billion worth of investment with $35 billion still in the pipeline. Those who are advocating for it have taken two approaches: to extend it another 10 years or to reform it.

The bill by Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston would reform the program, and some of those reforms, like more transparent formulas, even please critics such as senior fiscal analyst Dick Lavine of Every Texan, the group formerly known as the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The goal of the program, Murphy told his peers on the House Ways & Means Committee, has been to decrease the liability of property taxes in a state that is firmly opposed to a personal income tax.

“When it comes to business climate, we rank 45th for property taxes. Only four states have a higher business property tax burden than Texas,” Murphy said. “When it comes to capital-intensive projects, we are non-competitive.”

That’s why Texas offers Chapter 313, Murphy said.

By Kimberly Reeves

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