Big Three: Property tax reform, relief will happen

Big Three: Property tax reform, relief will happen

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The "Big Three" at the State Capitol, Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, say they will succeed in reducing your property taxes this legislative session.

The main revenue source they're leaning on is raising the state sales tax by one percent. It would raise about $5 billion in revenue year, headed to school finance. This would mean schools would rely less on your property taxes.

If the legislature passes House Joint Resolution 3 you would get to vote on the change in November.

Conservatives say this is the best way to deliver real relief. But Democrats argue this shifts the burden for public schools from wealthier home owners to low-income Texans.

The tax swap would raise taxes overall for households earning less than $100,000 a year, but lower taxes for households above that, according to one projection. 

Democrats say they have the votes to block the joint resolution in the House. It will go to a floor vote Tuesday.

Patrick says if the resolution fails, Republicans will find a way to make it happen.

House proposal allows $500,000 exemption

There is another hangup on the proposal to cap how quickly property tax rates can go up. 

A conference committee between the House and Senate will have to decide whether to give small taxing districts some breathing room. A change to Senate Bill 2 in the House would allow taxing districts to ignore the rollback rate. That rate is how much rates can go up before triggering an election.

The change allows taxing district to raise $500,000 in revenue without voter approval. This means more than 1,000 cities and counties would have been able to raise their property taxes by more than 3.5 percent in a year, according to 2017 data.

Fewer than 300 municipalities would even come close to needing elections, the ones that levy the most revenue. 

Lubbock Representative Dustin Burrows, who authored the bill, say this is for small districts to make one-time, big-ticket purchases without needing an election. 

As it's currently written, the $500,000 limit is tied to inflation. It would go up over time. 
 

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