Texans looking for long-awaited property tax reductions from state lawmakers could be disappointed, based on how a key proposal is being sold to voters.
House lawmakers who support “The Texas Plan” continue to claim the legislation—filed as House Bill 3—would “reduce Robin Hood by 38 percent.” This claim is simply inaccurate when compared to the status quo.
The state’s “Wealth Redistribution Tax,” known colloquially as “Robin Hood,” forces taxpayers in certain school districts to pay higher tax bills than what’s necessary to fund schools in their home district. The amount overtaxed in those districts—and sent to the state to be redistributed to other districts—is known as “recapture” and is a primary cause of soaring tax bills in many urban and suburban communities.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the amount “recaptured” statewide in the current biennium will exceed $4.74 billion (2018-19). Under HB 3, lawmakers claim total recapture would remain at $4.7 billion over the next two years, rather than increasing to more than $7 billion.
Strangely, many lawmakers are selling this as a “reduction.”
In fact, the misleading claim still appears on the website promoting the proposal. While it may be true HB 3 would prevent recapture from increasing, it would not “reduce Robin Hood recapture by 38 percent” when compared to current levels.
While it’s likely that some taxpayers currently punished by the system could see lower tax bills, the total amount confiscated statewide will not decrease. In fact, taxpayers living in certain Robin Hood districts may still see a tax increase.
Take Austin ISD, for example. The Texas Public Policy Foundation estimates that, if HB 3 passes as proposed, the median homeowner in Austin would still see their total property tax bill increase by $240 per year. Even if HB 2 and HB 3 both pass, as proposed, the median homeowner will still see tax bills rise, albeit only slightly.
No Texan would consider paying a higher cable bill this year than they did last year a windfall. That’s because it isn’t.
Texans voted for lawmakers who promised to actually cut property tax bills. Unfortunately, their lawmakers aren’t even making accurate claims about the impact of their proposals.
Those who insist on parroting the misleading claim that HB 3 will “reduce” Robin Hood recapture will only alienate constituents who have grown tired of double-talk from elected officials. Texans deserve the truth, not spin.
One hundred thirteen House lawmakers have signed onto HB 3 as a coauthor, the names of which can be found by clicking here.