Oil refinery tax breaks could indirectly cut local funding

Sept. 27, 2011 at 4:27 a.m.

If oil refineries throughout the state are granted the millions of dollars in tax refunds the companies are requesting, Victoria area schools could see some of their already-slashed funding be cut even more.

As many as 16 refineries are requesting the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality grant the tax breaks after the companies bought pollution-controlling equipment, according to the Associated Press.

Diane Boyett, Victoria school district's director of communications, said taxing entities with refineries in their districts would suffer the biggest hit, should the tax breaks be awarded.

But funding cuts could stretch statewide, she said.

Boyett explained that if certain school districts are required to pay back money they've received from taxing refineries, the state will need to provide funding to make up for that difference.

"It won't be a dollar for dollar makeup, but ... everybody's taking a hit in the pocketbooks this year anyway," she said.

The Legislature cut education spending by more than $4 billion this year.

To cover their costs, the state may then resort to prorating each school district, requiring them to repay funds already distributed, Boyett said.

"They have done that two or three years after the fact," Boyett said. "When they do their final settle up of expenses, then they can go back and prorate and pull a little bit back."

Boyett said the immediate effect of the TCEQ's decision shouldn't be substantial to VISD this year, but the district will continue to monitor the situation.



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