Austin ISD School Board denies tax break for semiconductor company NXP by narrow vote

The agreement was struck down by a vote of 5 to 4 late Thursday night.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin ISD school board Thursday night rejected a tax break for a large semiconductor company.

After discussing the point, the board rejected the proposal by a narrow vote of 5-4.

It was on the agenda for the December 15 board meeting and was one of the last Chapter 313 motions for the AISD to vote on. The filing and voting came as NXP seeks a multi-billion dollar expansion in East Austin.

“Our way of life over the past 40 years has evolved into a way of semiconductors, cell phones, home appliances, vehicles and medical devices,” said Casey Dobson, executive vice president of the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation.

However, some believe the agreement would have taken money away from Austin students and allowed the companies to avoid their tax obligations.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to pay for our children’s education,” said Mother Minerva Camarena Skeith of Central Texas Interfaith.

Central Texas Interfaith members like Skeith said tax breaks like this also leave holes and a greater burden on residents.

“When a company gets a tax break, the rest of us have to make up the difference. This week alone, the Comptroller confirmed that taxpayers are paying for 313 tax breaks,” Skeith claimed.

But supporters of the Chapter 313 deal said it prevented the state from recapturing as much of Austin ISD’s funding. Typically, AISD gives about half of its funds to the state for distribution to poorer counties.

“As you know, it will provide over $60 million in new funds that you can use to invest in teachers and students, it’s not subject to clawback,” said someone supporting the approval at Thursday night’s board meeting during a public comment.

However, Dobson said before the board meeting that if AISD doesn’t approve the deal, NXP could do business elsewhere.

“There’s little chance NXP will move forward with this project on Ed Bluestein Boulevard in East Austin unless the school district takes the opportunity,” Dobson said.

However, opponents said the entire post-Chapter 313 program harmed schools across the state.

“The simple fact is that over $1 billion a year in federal tax revenue spills onto the balance sheets of often huge, large multinational corporations with enormous profit margins,” said Reverend Miles Brandon of Central Texas Interfaith.

Officials on behalf of NXP made it clear that the more than $63.5 million investment in AISD would not be recovered, so all money would be seen by the district.

They claimed that this money also had no strings attached, allowing the district to use it freely as it saw fit. It also opened the door for a partnership to give AISD graduates jobs outside of school.

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Laura Coffey

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