Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, along with several senators, announced a new bill package this week designed to reduce property taxes through several different methods.
Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), Bob Hall (R-Rockwall), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), and Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) joined Patrick in a press conference on March 14.
The package included three bills that would offer a combined estimated $16.5 billion in property tax relief.
Lt. Gov. Patrick opened the press conference and invited Sen. Bettencourt to walk through the proposals, saying, “No one knows more about property taxes.”
“What we have is tremendously good news for Texas taxpayers today,” Bettencourt said.
“It’s important to know that we’re touching every taxpayer, every homeowner, every business owner, with needed tax relief,” Bettencourt claimed. “We’re spending the money as wisely as we can to get the maximum tax relief possible — and this plan has eye-popping numbers.”
Senate Bill 3, filed by Bettencourt, would increase the homestead exemption for property taxes from $40,000 to $70,000 and allow seniors to deduct an additional $30,000. Bettencourt claimed the increases would save homeowners $800 to $1,000 over the course of the next two years.
Bettencourt was also responsible for SB 4, which would contribute another $5.38 billion to buy down or “compress” school district property taxes, as explained in the bill analysis.
The final bill in the property tax reduction package was SB 5, filed by Parker. The proposal would increase the “business personal property exemption from a $2,500 de minimis exemption to a $25,000 universal exemption.”
Additionally, Parker’s bill would “provide eligible taxable entities a credit equal to 20% of the amount of ad valorem taxes paid during the period on which the report is based.”
In the press conference, Parker claimed the bill would deliver $1.5 billion of relief to business owners.
All of these measures were included in Lt. Gov. Patrick’s legislative priorities, as reported by The Dallas Express. Several of the property tax reduction measures have already garnered bipartisan support in the Senate.
“We’ve never had $16.5 billion dollars to throw at property tax relief, and that is a record number, and it is well spent, and I believe it will be well received by the citizens and taxpayers of the great state of Texas,” noted Bettencourt.
Patrick also explained, “The real key to save Texans’ taxes is to limit the size of government. That’s the key.”
However, the proposals have disappointed some economic policy experts and taxpayer advocacy groups, who had hoped for different approaches to the tax burden.
Vance Ginn, the president of Ginn Economic Consulting, directed The Dallas Express to a statement where he claimed, “[T]he Senate’s overly-complicated property tax package (#SB4, #SB4, #SB5) of $16.5B won’t put any property taxes on a path to elimination so Texans will continue to not have their right to own property.”
Instead, Ginn urged that Texas needs to “[s]pend less and use surpluses to reduce school M&O [maintenance and operations] property taxes by state and other property taxes by local [governments] until all are ZERO so Texans can finally have the right to own their property and ultimately stop renting and start owning.”
Similarly, Noah Betz, the executive director at the Huffines Liberty Foundation, explained to The Dallas Express, “We strongly believe this package falls short of being real property tax relief.”
A statement from former Texas Senator Don Huffines added that “[a] major shortcoming of the Senate bills is that they do nothing to limit future increases in rates and levies by local governments, including school districts.”
Tim Hardin, the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, told The Dallas Express, “although we support any property tax relief we do not feel as though the Senate package goes far enough. … We would like to see property taxes be put on a path towards elimination.”