Property tax reform is one of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priority items for the 2019 legislative session, with good reason.
While on the Keller City Council and as a candidate for state representative, I had the chance to meet with thousands of homeowners throughout House District 98. Whether it was in Keller, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, or Haslet, I heard from people who were legitimately concerned about being priced out of their own home. I heard from senior citizens selling the home they raised their families in because they were solely dependent on their retirement or social security checks, and they couldn’t sustain the annual increase in property taxes.
That’s why I stand in support of reform bills introduced this session in Austin—House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2—alongside Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and our own state senator, Kelly Hancock.
In short, the bills (which are identical in the Texas House and Senate) trigger an automatic tax ratification election if a taxing entity adopts a rate to grow spending faster than 2.5 percent year-to-year—meaning you, the taxpayer, have the final say.
To put it in perspective, this past year in Keller, both the city council and school district placed ballot initiatives for voters to weigh and consider. In both instances (the city’s senior center and the school district’s tax rate “swap and drop”), citizens voted in the affirmative.
Regardless of your position on the items, I would suggest both taxing entities did the right thing in taking the question straight to the voters. The City of Keller and the Keller Independent School District are an example of what local control should look and feel like, and I’m proud to live in a community that leads by example.
HB 2/SB 2 assures Texas takes the same principled approach to spending as Keller and our surrounding neighbors do. It increases transparency in the property tax system, empowers property owners to take a more active role in rate setting, and ensures voters will continue to have a voice other than just once every two or three years when they elect their representatives at the ballot box.
Let’s be clear: although the reforms in HB 2/SB 2 are a good start, the road must not end there. To fully realize real tax relief, we must address the inadequate school funding system that for too long we have had in place. In HD 98 alone, we have shipped over half a billion dollars away from our public schools and communities.
In addition, Texas needs comprehensive reform to make our appraisal system one in which the appraisal board is directly accountable to the taxpayer and property valuations cannot be arbitrarily raised at a rate that taxpayers cannot reasonably afford.
It is great to see the state’s House, Senate, and governor’s office come together to tackle the biggest issues facing Texas. Now it’s our turn to come together as a community and urge our elected representatives to continue fulfilling their campaign promises.
If you are unsure where your state representative or state senator stands on the issue, the time to ask questions is now.
This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected].