The Valero effect

This is just what all of our cash-strapped local budgets need right now.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is not typically a big player in school finance debates.

But an upcoming decision by the commission could strike a major blow to the budgets of many school districts that will have to be made up, in part, by the state, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

At issue is a request by Valero Energy Corp. to apply a property tax exemption for pollution control equipment, approved by voters in 1993, to refinery equipment known as hydrotreaters. That equipment removes sulfur from gasoline and diesel that reduces auto emissions.

The agency’s executive director recommended that the request be denied because the rules require the equipment to provide an on-site pollution control benefit. But that decision was appealed by Valero and in January two TCEQ commissioners directed the agency to reconsider.

That decision is still pending.

The Chron wrote about this last week and then editorialized about it on Wednesday. I can’t quite fathom the rationale for the TCEQ allowing this, but I will agree with the Chron that it would have been better if the Lege had slammed the door on these shenanigans last session. They may have to address it next year whether they want to or not.

Rick Molina, who is running for State Rep in HD144, sent out a press release about this:

Rick Molina, candidate for Texas’s 144th House District, today asked Texas taxpayers to sign his petition opposing a plan pushed by Rick Perry and his Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that would harm our local school districts and raise the tax burden on Texas’s property owners. The petition can be found at

“Rick Perry already increased taxes on small businesses and now many of them are having a tough time making ends meet and creating jobs,” Molina said. “Now, we see he is about to shift more tax burden down to property owners. I just cannot understand why, as the nation is trying to recover economically, Rick Perry believes raising Texans’ property taxes is a good idea. I want Valero to be a successful, profitable company, but it must do so without looking to shift its tax burden to Texas home owners.”

The full release is here. HD144 includes Pasadena, so extra kudos to Molina for taking this on.

On a tangential note, Valero is also busy out in California trying to gut that state’s clean air legislation. They’re quite the corporate citizens, aren’t they? I stopped buying gas at the Valero in my neighborhood when I noticed a poster on their pump urging people to call their Congressperson to oppose cap and trade. They won’t be getting me back any time soon, that’s for sure.

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