Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appears to be preparing for a battle between state lawmakers and local officials over future tax burdens of Texas taxpayers.
In a tweet last week, Abbott said local officials “want to tax you more” and “It’s time for Texas to side with taxpayers NOT big government.”
Local officials are against my plan to cap your property taxes. They want to tax you more. I want to tax you less. It’s time for Texas to side with taxpayers NOT big government. #txlege #tcot https://t.co/8TJ1leaYYn
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 6, 2018
The comments come just weeks ahead of the 86th Texas legislative session and appear to be an attempt at contrasting his position with that of elected officials on city councils and county commissioners courts across the state. It raises the question: Will this change in tactics result in any sort of meaningful relief for Texas taxpayers?
In 2017, during the regular legislative session, Abbott maintained a mostly non-participatory role, allowing for the Texas House and Texas Senate to conduct — or not conduct — their business based on their own priorities and time.
It was only in calling the special session that Abbott chose to utilize his political capital to try and shape the landscape in either chamber. While the House’s failure to pass sunset legislation was the subject of the formal call for a special session, Abbott used the overtime opportunity to work on measures that otherwise failed to be addressed in the regular session, including property tax reform and 19 other “priority items.” Ultimately, the Texas House killed a measure that would have allowed Texans to vote on excessive tax hikes each year, a plan strongly supported by Abbott and Texans struggling with skyrocketing property taxes.
In total, less than half of the 20 items Abbott requested made it to his desk, with property tax relief for all Texans being among those killed by obstructionists in the Texas House.
Since then, the governor has announced a plan he believes should serve as the framework for legislation to tackle the issue, one that goes further in slowing the growth of out-of-control property tax rates than anything considered in previous sessions.
With Abbott ramping up rhetoric about property tax reform before the new legislative session commences, it appears he may be more serious about seeing it through this time around. Whether or not he imposes enough political pressure on lawmakers to move a proposal through the Texas House in the coming weeks, and whether that plan provides any meaningful relief, will be determined in the coming months.
This is the first of a three-part series by Destin Sensky.