News88th TXLege

Corporate Welfare Revival Scheme Has the Votes in the Texas House

April 24, 2023
Jeramy Kitchen
88th Legislative Session, Chapter 313, Corporate Welfare, Dade Phelan, Dan Patrick

At the end of last week, several Texas House lawmakers signed on in support of the corporate welfare revival effort prioritized by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), increasing the total amount of public supporters to a threshold that’s enough to vote it out of the lower chamber.

Though the legislation was left pending in the House Ways and Means Committee two weeks ago, with its new additional support, it is highly likely it will be voted out of committee imminently to be considered by the overall House.

House Bill 5, authored by Republican State Rep. Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), seeks to revive the now-ended largest corporate welfare program in Texas, the Chapter 313 tax abatements. Perhaps more concerning to Texas taxpayers, however, should be the lack of accountability and lack of a sunset provision that makes this revival effort far more pernicious. The difference-maker this legislative session seems to be the fact that in its current form, the legislation does not allow “renewable” energy projects to receive the abatements, which was one of the major objections to the program’s renewal last legislative session.

List of Supporters

The list of public supporters for the legislation has grown to 76, which means that if the legislation is considered by the entirety of the Texas House of Representatives, it has enough votes to pass. The list is comprised of 52 Republicans and 24 Democrats, despite the fact that both major political parties have explicit opposition to corporate welfare in their state party platforms.

The Texas GOP platform states:

“Plank 94: Property Tax Abatements: We support repealing Tax Code Chapter 312 county and municipal property tax abatements, and we oppose reintroducing school property tax abatements, formerly known as Chapter 313.”

The Texas Democratic Party platform states:

“Eliminate tax loopholes and unproductive special breaks to simplify the tax system and provide revenue for essential services.”

That same platform continues:

“Prohibit ‘corporate welfare’ incentives that pit states and communities against each other.”

Despite this opposition, a bipartisan list of lawmakers supporting the contrary has only grown:

House LawmakerCareer Rating
Todd Hunter (R)F
Morgan Meyer (R)F
Dustin Burrows (R)C-
Hugh Shine (R)F
Oscar Longoria (D)F
Steve Allison (R)F
Charles Anderson (R)C-
Trent Ashby (R)F
Ernest Bailes (R)F
Cecil Bell Jr. (R)F
Keith Bell (R)F
Salman Bhojani (D)
Greg Bonnen (R)C-
Brad Buckley (R)F
Angie Chen Button (R)F
Terry Canales (D)F
Giovanni Capriglione (R)F
Sheryl Cole (D)F
David Cook (R)F
Philip Cortez (D)F
Charles Cunningham (R)
Drew Darby (R)F
Jay Dean (R)F
Mano DeAyala (R)
Harold Dutton Jr. (D)F
House LawmakerCareer Rating
Frederick Frazier (R)
Gary Gates (R)F
Stan Gerdes (R)
Charlie Geren (R)F
Craig Goldman (R)C-
Bobby Guerra (D)F
Ryan Guillen (R)F
Sam Harless (R)F
Cody Harris (R)F
Abel Herrero (D)F
Justin Holland (R)F
Jacey Jetton (R)F
Ann Johnson (D)F
Julie Johnson (D)F
Kyle Kacal (R)F
Ken King (R)F
Tracy King (D)F
Stan Kitzman (R)
John Kuempel (R)F
Stan Lambert (R)F
Brooks Landgraf (R)C-
Janie Lopez (R)
J.M. Lozano (R)F
John Lujan (R)
Christian Manuel (D)
House LawmakerCareer Rating
Armando Martinez (D)F
Joe Moody (D)F
Eddie Morales (D)F
Geanie Morrison (R)F
Sergio Muñoz Jr. (D)F
Candy Noble (R)F
Tom Oliverson (R)F
Claudia Ordaz (D)F
Angelia Orr (R)
Dennis Paul (R)F
Mary Ann Perez (D)F
Mihaela Plesa (D)
Four Price (R)F
John Raney (R)F
Richard Raymond (D)F
Ron Reynolds (D)F
Glenn Rogers (R)F
Toni Rose (D)F
Carl Sherman Sr. (D)F
Reggie Smith (R)F
Lynn Stucky (R)F
Carl Tepper (R)
Shawn Thierry (D)F
Kronda Thimesch (R)
Ed Thompson (R)F
Gary VanDeaver (R)F

Notably, six Republican lawmakers who opposed the extension of the Chapter 313 tax abatement program last legislative session now count themselves among the supporters of the current legislation that seeks to do nearly the same thing. Those lawmakers include State Reps. David Cook (Mansfield), Gary Gates (Richmond), Sam Harless (Spring), Justin Holland (Heath), Reggie Smith (Van Alstyne), and Tom Oliverson (Cypress).

Gates’ support is somewhat notable, as he is a member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, which publicly came out in opposition to the corporate welfare revival scheme, ultimately meaning he is on the opposite side of his own caucus.

Prospects in the Texas Senate

Ultimately, the prospects for the legislation, assuming it passes the Texas House of Representatives, are unknown in the Texas Senate. Though the effort to renew Chapter 313 tax abatements died in the Texas Senate last legislative session, it is unclear whether Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will end its prospects again this session, considering that “renewable” energy is something not given the abatement in this version.

What is Next?

It is likely the legislation will be voted out of the House Ways & Means Committee shortly and then be considered by the overall House of Representatives quickly thereafter ahead of upcoming self-imposed deadlines that preclude such consideration.

Concerned taxpayers may contact their lawmakers here.