With property taxes in Texas at near-confiscatory levels, State Rep. Phil King of Weatherford has been leading the charge to eliminate the scheme altogether. He’s taken a step in making that happen by introducing a constitutional amendment that would begin devoting a portion of future surplus dollars to property tax relief. Legislators should be encouraged to back HJR 38.
One barrier to property tax relief has been that such transfers of money count against the state’s spending limit. (Spending has never really been limited by the limit, but tax relief has — that’s Austin for you.) Mr. King’s amendment states that using surplus dollars to buy down property taxes “is not an appropriation” subject to the limit.
Texas has generally run surpluses — but those dollars have historically been squandered to grow the size of government (see parenthetical in previous paragraph) and thus further encumber taxpayers. A couple years ago, it was forecasted that using very conservative estimates, and limiting the growth of government to population and inflation, the school “M&O” tax could be eliminated in less than 20 years.