More than $4 billion in tax relief sailed through the Senate on Wednesday, but faces an uneasy future in the Texas House — where the leadership team around obstructionist Speaker Joe Straus has called such efforts “gimmickry.” As a result, House members might have some uncomfortable explaining to do back home.
Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to “reject any budget” that doesn’t have lower business taxes. In his January State of the State address Abbott explained he expected “$2 billion reduction in the business franchise tax and a $2.2 billion reduction in the property tax burden.”
House members applauded, but apparently didn’t listen.
Indeed, Straus himself produced a budget blueprint that conspicuously ignored tax relief. And his hand-picked Appropriations Committee didn’t include a single dime in the budget they adopted this week. They left just $2 billion of unexpended revenues… which the Straus leadership has since said nearly half would be used for new public education spending.
That leaves slightly better than $1 billion potentially available for tax relief in the House… a very far cry from Abbott’s $4.2 billion or the Senate’s $4.6 billion.
Some GOP House members might start now thinking about how they’ll explain to small business owners and homeowners why the Senate was easily able to pass tax relief, but the House leadership did not even try. (And that goes double for those “conservative” House members who voted for Straus claiming he would actually be a conservative this session.)
The entire House is scheduled to take up the budget on Tuesday, so there is the chance House members themselves might be able to cut enough through floor amendments to make room for tax relief… But don’t expect the Straus team to let that happen without some major fights.