The best strategy to lower property taxes in the state has been the subject of months of negotiations amongst Republican legislators in Texas.
However, those talks between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, which have failed after two special legislative sessions, do not address tenant relief.
House Democrats have proposed legislation to return renters’ money and give public school teachers a permanent pay raise.
On Thursday, Rep. John Bryant, D-Dallas, the bill’s sponsor, said that his attempt “recognizes that you can’t talk about property taxes without talking about public education.” “You cannot discuss property tax reductions without addressing every Texan, including the 3.8 million renters and homeowners.”
The Democratic plan would allocate $20.9 billion for tax reductions.
In a ploy to apparently get his way, Governor Abbott suggests he is threatening to destroy the work of the entire 88th Legislative Session – hundreds of thousands of hours by lawmakers doing the work the people sent us to do.
The Governor’s suggested threat today to veto a…
— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) June 14, 2023
The legislation’s executive summary states that the funds would grant homeowners a homestead exemption “of the higher of $100,000 or 25% of their home’s appraised value, up to a cap of $200,000.”
Renters who paid rent in the most recent tax year will receive a cash rebate of up to 10% under the Democratic plan, which also intends to assist them.
“Christina Morales, especially as rents have skyrocketed in the past few years,” said state representative Christina Morales, a Democrat from Houston.
Democrats and Texans “cannot ignore the fact that renters have been left out of this conversation” about property tax reductions, according to Morales.
The measure also increases Texas’ basic allotment, or per-pupil funding, by $1,000, giving teachers a permanent raise of $4,300 annually.
Rep. Bryant claimed that since learning that a second special session will likely be called after GOP leaders failed to agree during the first special session last month, Democrats have been working on their plan for the past two weeks.
Morales criticized Republicans for failing to achieve a compromise.
We cannot afford to spend any more time since every extraordinary session costs public money, Morales added. “The internal divisions within their party have impeded progress.” “In light of this deadlock, I implore my Republican colleagues to consider our proposal.”
The offices of Speaker Phelan’s office and Governor Greg Abbott’s office did not reply to requests for comment from The Texas Newsroom.
For months, Phelan and Patrick have been unable to agree on how to reduce property taxes.
The Senate enacted a bill last week that raises the homestead exemption to $100,000 while rerouting state funding to reduce the maintenance and operations taxes (also known as “compression”) paid by school districts. Throughout the state’s upcoming two-year budget cycle, the plan also provides instructors with a one-time additional payment of $2,000 to $6,000.
But it appears that the Texas House will once more pass a bill similar to the one p@ssed during the previous special session. Compression is part of their proposal, but they do not increase the homestead exemption.
However, this week appears to have seen some movement.
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Phelan visited with Patrick on Wednesday, and according to reports, they “talked about a lot of issues but mainly tax reform and tax relief for needy Texans.”
Phelan expressed optimism. But in response to whether he thought a deal could be reached this week, “There’s plenty of time.”
Since the initiatives would involve changing the state constitution, Texas Republicans have stated that they would prefer to pass them and put them on the November ballot.