Texas state lawmaker Paul Bettencourt said in an exclusive interview with The Dallas Express that he wants to continue to lower the state property tax and provide a national example of how to boost state economies.
Sen. Bettencourt (R-Houston) was behind SB 2, which put Proposition 4 on the ballot this Election Day in November. The proposition passed with 84% of support from voters. The measure provides an $18 billion property tax cut to Texans. The senator, who serves as the president and CEO of Bettencourt Tax Advisors, said all it took to pass the measure was public knowledge.
“I felt like the more the public knew, the higher the vote total would be,” Bettencourt told The Dallas Express. “It’s just a fantastic thing to be able to give out that record of a property tax [cut] and to have the voters overwhelmingly agree with it.”
The proposition amended the state constitution to more than double the homestead exemption on school district tax rates. Homeowners went from having $40,000 in value that cannot be taxed to $100,000. Additionally, school districts get a total of $7.1 billion in taxpayer money to help offset lost revenue from the property tax decrease.
The Texas Teachers Association, a chapter of the National Teachers Association, opposed Proposition 4, calling it “anti-education” and “unnecessary.”
“[I]f adopted, [Proposition 4] will remove a constitutional source of future dedicated funding for public schools,” the union alleged.
Bettencourt said he worked closely with lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to ensure Texas had the necessary funds to make such a significant tax cut.
“We looked at this for the next five years, and we’re sitting [on] $30 billion, probably like $36 billion cash balance above the rainy day fund, which is fully funded,” he told The Dallas Express. “And our sales tax receipts are growing, so that’s how you can make the move. Lt. Gov. Patrick and I believe that if you have excess cash, you need to give about half of it back to the public.”
Bettencourt was also behind SB 3, which passed this year. The measure increases the exemption for businesses from the franchise tax from $1.23 million to $2.47 million. The senator said he hopes to see other states follow the example of Texas on the issue of taxes.
“Texas is the job creation engine for the country — we have so many businesses moving here, and part of it is you want to keep your overall tax rate low,” Bettencourt told The Dallas Express. “The whole philosophy of all these bills I’ve passed is that as home values go up, tax rates need to go down so people get a break — and that’s good for businesses and homeowners.”
The homestead exemption to property tax rates was $15,000 in 2015 and now sits at $100,000. The goal, Bettencourt said, is to continue to lower the property tax as home values increase and the Texas economy grows.
“As long as we keep lowering our ranking on property taxes, which has been happening, then we can generate more jobs, and more jobs means more income for people, corporations, and the government,” he told The Dallas Express. “It’s a way for everyone to live long and prosper.”