Despite the fact that the Texas House has packed up and left town, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the Senate will not accept their “take it or leave it” property tax relief plan.
Hours after the regular legislative session ended on Monday evening, Gov. Greg Abbott called lawmakers back for the first of several special sessions—this one dealing with border security and property tax relief.
The two chambers have been at odds all year, however, on their approach to property tax relief. While the House has advocated for stronger appraisal caps, the Senate has supported an increase to the homestead exemption.
Abbott’s plan, which he has increasingly embraced this week, shuns both approaches and instead would use funds from the state to help buy down—or “compress”—local school property taxes.
On Tuesday, the House passed a bill to do just that—providing around $12.4 billion in relief, significantly less than its final $16.3 billion proposal from the regular session. They then adjourned “Sine Die” that day, meaning they would not return for the remainder of the special session—a move meant to squeeze the Senate into accepting their proposal. Abbott later praised the move.
The Senate, meanwhile, passed their own $12.1 billion version with a smaller amount of compression and a $100,000 homestead exemption. That bill was not referred to a committee by Speaker Dade Phelan after he ruled it nongermane to the governor’s call.
While groups like Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and the Huffines Liberty Foundation have praised Abbott’s plan—arguing continued tax compression could ultimately eliminate school property taxes—there has also been disagreement on the size of the proposal, especially when compared to the state’s $33 billion surplus.
Despite Abbott’s and the House’s endorsement, Patrick has been steadfast in his determination to have a homestead exemption increase as part of any property tax relief deal.
“If the House thinks after abandoning the Capitol, and walking out on the Special Session, the Senate is going to pass their ‘take it or leave it’ property tax bill without a homestead exemption, they are mistaken,” Patrick wrote on Twitter.
If the House thinks after abandoning the Capitol, and walking out on the Special Session, the Senate is going to pass their “take it or leave it” property tax bill without a homestead exemption, they are mistaken.
The Senate is still working. The House can return. Our bill…
— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) May 31, 2023
Though the House has adjourned from its special session work, the Senate is slated to meet Friday morning. It remains to be seen what the next move will be as the Big Three continue their standoff over property tax relief.