Texas’ “Big Three” state leaders aren’t budging on their support for a sales tax increase, as they begin a sprint to pass a sales tax increase before the end of the legislative session just a few short weeks away.
In a joint press conference Friday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen echoed similar remarks they made earlier in the year about the importance of property tax reform.
Abbott talked about the recent passage of Senate Bill 2, property tax reform legislation which passed the House this week, calling it “a landmark reform that alters the punishing property taxes in Texas by limiting the ability of school districts to increase property taxes above a 2.5 percent increase.”
“But, even with the passage of that law, what it will really achieve is to slow the growth of property taxes in Texas,” he added.
But with all the talk about property tax reform early in the session, Abbott said he was often asked by taxpayers about relief.
“If we are able to pass a sales tax increase that will be dedicated to driving down property taxes, we are going to be able to leave this Capitol and inform our fellow Texans that their property tax bills are going to be less than they were this year,” he argued.
Current proposals put a 1 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot for voter approval, with Bonnen adding he was tired of playing “small ball,” and “that penny will be noticeable.”
Though Abbott told reporters he would take an “exhaustive” amount of time to ensure that “every single question you have about property tax reform asked and answered,” the three only took a handful of questions before leaving the room, failing to answer a question about whether the average Texans’ overall tax burden would be decreased.
Texans watching on the Texas Scorecard livestream, however, had plenty of unanswered questions about the proposal while others expressed their distaste for any increase in sales taxes.
Governor, any increase in any tax is not acceptable, including sales tax. The property tax concept is not difficult to understand – you are making this difficult! Expect massive protests if our property taxes are not reduced! – John Korpal
Relief is when we no longer pay rent on property we own. – Carol Doucet
Quit increasing spending. We do not have a revenue problem. – Crystal Main
Former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi was among those who took to the comments to show disapproval of the plan.
“It’s not all that complex to see they are raising taxes to spend the $9 billion surplus. You don’t cut taxes by raising them,” he said.
While putting a sales tax increase in its current proposal would require two-thirds of the legislature’s approval, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick indicated he would attempt to sidestep voters if the two chambers couldn’t reach that threshold.
“I hope we get enough votes to make this a constitutional amendment,” said Patrick, saying he expected voters to “overwhelmingly” support the proposal.
“If it doesn’t, we’ll make it happen anyway,” he added.