Wealth tax relief is not on Governor Greg Abbott’s agenda for this year’s third special legislative session, but Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is increasing the pressure to enforce this anyway.
A measure that would use a state tax surplus to reduce property tax bills for the 2022-2023 school year was named Senate Act 1 by Patrick. The move would provide at least $ 2 billion to independent school districts, in return, ISDs would cut homeowners’ tax rates by about 3.3 cents. Example: A home owner with a taxable value of $ 300,000 would reduce their tax bill by $ 100.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, is the author of the bill.
“I think this is a necessary relief for the property tax,” said Bettencourt. “I’ve been advocating for 20 years or more that if you have excess funds, at least some of it should go back to taxpayers.”
An identical bill passed the Senate during the second special session with 29 to 2 votes, but then died in the House of Representatives. The new move appears to be in the fast lane in the Senate during that special session, with a finance committee passing the bill 14-0 on Tuesday with a possible vote before the week’s end.
House Speaker Dade Phelan has this time expressed support for the law. However, if the governor does not put the bill on the agenda before the end of the special session, there is a risk that it will be derailed on rules of procedure by the Democrats when it reaches the lower chamber.
“I suspect that in the interests of both the House and Senate, and what I think taxpayers’ obvious interests in the state, the governor would likely consider. But it’s up to him. ”Bettencourt said.
Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, said the small number of the bill was considerable.
“What Patrick is signaling is that while this is not on the governor’s agenda now, he wants to put it on the agenda as soon as possible,” said Jones.
Jones noted that Patrick had succeeded in getting the governor to add items to previous special session agendas by providing a list of his own priorities. One of the most notable items this year was a law restricting transgender student athletes, a measure that died in previous special sessions but was revived for the third special session.
“This (property tax reform) is one area I believe Patrick decided this was his top priority,” said Jones. “He will do everything in his power to ensure – before the special session ends in mid-October – that this item is not only put on the agenda, but also passed by the Senate, and this time by the House of Representatives.”
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