With the state expected to have a $27 billion surplus when lawmakers gather in January for the next legislative session, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is laying claim to dedicating at least half the money for property tax relief.
“Because this is your money, I want to return at least HALF of that money to you with the largest property tax cut ever in the history of Texas,” the governor’s campaign quoted Abbott as saying in Fairview on Wednesday.
This represents the first substantive proposal from the governor on how to use the surplus dollars. Earlier this summer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proposed much lower tax relief numbers. Now, he tells Texas Scorecard, the number could be much higher than half.
“Bottom line is that property tax relief will come first,” said Patrick.
Former State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, who now runs the conservative Defend Texas Liberty PAC, praised the governor’s statement.
“This is a strong statement, and what Texans want to hear!” he tweeted, but then warned his former colleagues that it needs to be “AT LEAST half” of the surplus.
Former State Sen. Don Huffines, who challenged Abbott in the 2022 GOP primary, wants Abbott to do even better than half.
“Glad the governor wants to help with the crazy high rent we pay to our government landlords,” Huffines posted to social media. “Abbott should return all the surplus to those who paid it. The long-term goal must be to cut half or eliminate all of the property tax permanently.”
Historically, the Texas Legislature has used surplus dollars to expand government. Tim Hardin, who heads Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, believes the entire surplus should be dedicated to putting the state on a path towards eliminating the school maintenance and operations property tax – which accounts for half of Texans’ property tax burdens.
“We must remember that the government is not ‘for profit’ and should not be plundering the money of taxpayers because they overshot projections,” explained Hardin in July. “That surplus is in every sense OUR money, and the government has no right to keep it, especially if the dominant party in Texas claims to be ‘fiscally conservative’ and advocates for small government.”
[UPDATED: Added new quotes from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.]