As Texans across the state are taxed out of their homes due to exorbitant property taxes, Texas Scorecard reached out to all of the Republican candidates in the runoff election for the state Legislature to ask how they plan to lower property taxes.
In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed a long-heralded property tax reform package. However, the Republican-led Texas House only addressed half of the issue—caps for local tax hikes, not the appraisals that determine tax rates.
The Legislature’s inaction allows the problem to continue to grow. Property tax bills are expected to arrive in Texans’ mailboxes throughout this month. As inflation and gas prices continue to rise, Texans need relief from their ever-increasing property tax bills.
Republican voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposition in March that said property taxes should be eliminated.
Senate District 24
“This is not ‘another new tax.’ It is not increasing sales or any other existing tax. Instead, restructure the Texas tax system into a simple, efficient, and transparent, consumption-based tax of 7 percent. On the simplest macro-level, here’s how it works. Texas needs $89.9 billion to replace all revenue from taxes abolished. Texas GDP is $1.99 trillion. A tax rate of 7 percent on the whole economy would capture $139.3 billion. If we exclude 35 percent, the net is 90.5$ billion, which is more than sufficient.
“And, while the goal is to eliminate property taxes by instituting a consumption tax, an interim, immediate, step would be to eliminate property taxes for homesteads of those citizens over 70 years of age. The estimated ‘cost’ to the State would be $1 billion but would prevent our older citizens’ homes from being confiscated for non-payment of taxes. There are current provisions which allow for these citizens to defer the taxes. However, those deferred taxes must be paid for by the heirs.
“Finally, property taxes are also severely affecting younger generations. Increasing property taxes make homes unaffordable and generate a ‘renter class’ unable to enjoy homeownership. Texas must act, and if blessed to be elected senator of SD24, I will be pushing hard for these solutions.”
House District 12
Neither Kyle Kacal nor Ben Bius responded to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
House District 17
Stan Gerdes did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“First of all, I would say the most immediate thing we can do in the next 30 days to lower property taxes is to support the two constitutional amendments that are on the May 7 ballot. The first amendment draws down property taxes for senior citizens and the disabled, and the second amendment raises Texas’ homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for school district property taxes. I would encourage all voters in HD17, and all across the state, to get to the polls and pass both of these amendments.
“Secondly, on a broader scale—the state Legislature has to take direct action next session to reorganize the way we pay for public schools in our communities. A big part of that would be to look at reducing ISD local tax rates, and the best way to do that is to further increase the state’s share of funding needed to operate our public schools—a proposal that I wholeheartedly endorse.
“Of course, lowering tax rates must be accompanied by addressing out-of-control appraisal values. In too many cases, the Central Appraisal District is leading (or establishing) market values, not reflecting them. There must be more protections in place for property owners, or else we will all be leasing our land from the government through property taxes, rather than owning it.
“There are a number of possible changes that would make the appraisal system better, particularly in the realm of Appraisal Review Board statutes. I’d support many of these as long as they make the process more transparent and provide additional rights to property owners.
“Generally speaking, I’m open to supporting any proposals that provide real, meaningful tax relief where tax bills actually go down. Unlike my opponent, Stan Gerdes, who supports appointing Democrats as committee chairs, I know that conservative reforms like these are not possible when you put Democrats in positions of power where they can stop conservative laws from passing. Republicans have been given a mandate by the voters of Texas election after election, so we need to pass reforms like property tax reduction into law.
House District 19
Justin Berry did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“I support Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Lower Taxes, Better Texas Plan to eliminate property taxes in Texas through a buydown plan where we reduce spending and apply the savings towards property tax relief. I will fight for this approach in the Texas House.”
House District 23
“I am the ONLY candidate in this race that has continually advocated for—and has a plan to eliminate—property taxes. Not reform, not relief, but elimination.
We keep electing folks more interested in climbing the political ladder than those who are willing to fight for limited government. Homeowners who have paid off their homes continue to essentially pay rent to the State to live in their homes. The rise in property taxes also makes homes unaffordable and generates a ‘renter class’ unable to enjoy homeownership. NO tax should leave anyone homeless. Private property ownership is central to liberty.
How can we eliminate property tax? We can do it now with a bill similar to HB3742 (83R) that will abolish 60+ taxes and implement a simple, efficient, transparent 7 percent consumption tax instead. Or we can do it over time with a 10-year plan similar to Texas Public Policy Foundation’s plan. If eliminating it over time, the Legislature will then need to deliver a constitutional amendment to the voters to vote on, so that the reductions over time won’t be reversed by future administrations.
Despite promises to the contrary, in the last two decades, the property tax burden on Texans has exponentially increased. It is time for lawmakers to act on eliminating property taxes. I will, of course, support any bill that will decrease our property tax burden, and I will support appraisal reform as well. Currently, the appraisal board members answer to the taxing entities that appoint them. These boards need to be elected by the people, so they answer to the people. But first and foremost, I will advocate to eliminate property taxes because relief and reform have never worked.”
“I am an appraisal cap proponent. I support limiting property tax appraisal increases on residential homesteads from 10 percent to as low as 3 percent. I also support biennial appraisals, that way a homeowner would only face 15 appraisals over the life of a 30-year mortgage, as opposed to 30. I plan to work with my local tax assessor-collector to craft legislation that will make the appraisal process more fair for all property taxpayers.”
House District 52
“There are many plans out there, and I want to ensure that whatever the Legislature implements not only lowers property taxes for Texans but provides long-term relief. Last year, the Legislature implemented a spending cap limiting spending to below population growth plus inflation. One of the plans that looks promising is for the state to return this surplus to the taxpayers in the form of property tax relief. Some groups estimate that by doing this, our state could eliminate 80 percent of its property taxes by 2033. I will do all I can to fight for property tax relief and reform for all Texans.”
“Property taxes are a serious burden on the homeowners in my district in Williamson County, and voters want our elected officials to provide relief. I am committed to fighting for lower property taxes.
I support providing property tax relief by first limiting state-level spending, and then dedicating the tax revenue surplus that we’d have from that towards buying down the M&O (maintenance and operations) part of the school district property taxes. Since over half of the property taxes in our area go towards schools, doing this consistently over time at the state level is a path to drastically lower property taxes for Texans.”
House District 60
Glenn Rogers did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“I am interested in the idea put forth by the Texas Public Policy Foundation that proposes dedicating all revenue above the recently implemented spending cap to buy down property taxes.”
House District 61
Frederick Frazier did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“If elected to the Texas State House, I will propose the following: Homeowners can elect to take an average of their previous five years of property taxes and lock in that rate/cost for life. One of the primary concerns I hear from voters is the high cost of property taxes. In the past few years, we have seen high appraisals, which increase the burden on property owners. This creates a financial strain and long-term uncertainty for the homeowner. To provide stability for the homeowner, we need real reform, and my proposal provides real relief.”
House District 63
Ben Bumgarner did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“I advocate eliminating property taxes. There are two proposals. The first involves raising the sales tax and funding property tax elimination from the additional sales tax proceeds. The second involves taking excess funds from the GRR account and using those funds to buy down property tax over time.
I prefer the second proposal. It’s a conservative approach. It puts spending caps on the GRR, and it reduces overall taxation. It also has the great benefit of overcoming a lot of the school district inequality issues that we have in Texas.
As we implement property tax elimination, I strongly advocate yearly audits of school districts. We need to make sure they’re spending money on educational activities. Excessive overhead spending in school districts is a huge problem. If we’re going to take state money and give it to the districts, then they must prove they’re using the money wisely and constitutionally.”
House District 70
Jamee Jolly did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“I believe that one of the top goals of the next Texas Legislature should be to deliver real property tax relief to Texans. I support passing legislation that would require cities, counties, school districts, and other taxing entities to tighten their belts and stop raising taxes on Texans. This would include passing legislation reforming the use of certificates of obligation by taxing entities, reforming bond election processes, further capping the annual tax increases taxing entities may pass, and banning wasteful government expenditures, such as taxpayer-funded lobbying.”
House District 73
Barron Casteel did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“I have a plan to cut our property taxes in half—without sacrificing school funding or raising other taxes to compensate. My plan will use the $12 billion in excess revenue on the table since the Legislature passed its spending limit to buy down school maintenance and operations (M&O) taxes, which are the largest portion of our property tax bills. Economists believe that we can eliminate M&O entirely in 12 years, along with eliminating the recapture law that steals funding from every school district in House District 73. My opponent is offering gimmicks that won’t actually cut taxes; but with my plan, we will see lower taxes year over year, including tax relief for homeowners, renters, and businesses.”
House District 84
“My priority is property tax relief for homeowners. I want to protect the exemptions that help seniors and disabled veterans stay in their homes. I want to look at ways to get better value from local spending and balancing the distribution of taxation on consumption rather than homeowners. I absolutely oppose an income tax.”
“Lower the appraisal caps on the homestead exemption home, 2.5 percent cap, and introduce a cap on commercial and rental property, 8-10 percent.”
House District 85
Stan Kitzman did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
“Rep. Stephenson’s first step in the immediate future would be to use the $12 billion surplus for 2022-2023, as reported by the comptroller—possibly even some or all of the 12 billion … in the rainy day fund, to pay down property taxes statewide.
“Obviously, this is temporary. Long-term: Rep. Stephenson has long been an advocate of swapping out property taxes with sales taxes. This is too complex to explain in a blurb, but the basic plan would be not to increase the 6.25 percent sales tax from the state, but broaden what is taxed—and, without adding the local 2 percent.
“It is also crucial that the state budget be swept to eliminate the fraud and waste. Rep. Stephenson has long been a proponent of zero-based budgeting.
“It is his belief that the property tax system is the Achilles heel of Texas and has the potential to ultimately undermine the state’s economy. This is an emergency!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
House District 91
“Property tax appraisals are out of control. They’re inaccurate, unfair, and just plain wrong.
“The first step in providing long-overdue property tax relief is to immediately freeze the annual property tax appraisal increases on residential property.
“The next step is a forensic audit of the largest public school districts in Texas. It’s time we uncover the wasteful spending and find the true cost of education.
“The third step is to stop allowing undocumented immigrants from utilizing any taxpayer-funded resource in Texas, with the exception of emergency medical care.”
“Anyone who follows real estate market conditions in high-growth areas like DFW knows that property values are skyrocketing. As property values go up, appraisals follow. For those who bought their homes many years ago, this sticker shock is significant. As local taxing entities set their tax rates this summer/fall, I am encouraging my neighbors to watch these taxing boards and provide feedback requesting they lower their tax rates. Each of these entities, whether they be county commissioner courts, city councils, school boards, or special purpose districts, are governed by elected officials. Participate in their elections. Research each bond proposition that is submitted to voters.
“From a state level, I have worked to provide property tax relief and to empower taxpayers with a stronger voice in decisions that affect their property tax bill. I supported the constitutional amendment being considered on the May 7 ballot increasing the homestead exemption by 60 percent. I also voted for legislation ensuring cities, counties, and other taxing entities must receive voter approval before raising taxes or issuing more debt, and legislation requiring more accountability and transparency in the process of protesting appraisals. Last session, an additional $100 million was dedicated toward property tax relief. With the spending caps that we legislatively put in place last session, I would support using the revenues above those caps to buy down the property tax until it is completely eliminated. I will continue to fight for and support plans that will abolish property taxes to ensure homeowners can truly own their own home.”
House District 93
“I know what it takes to lower local property taxes. As Southlake mayor, I cut the property tax rate and increased the homestead exemption to the maximum allowed by law. I will take the same fight to Austin to provide lasting property tax relief for Texans.”
“I would like to take money from the state surplus and relieve the burden on municipal governments to pay for their public schools. Then cut the effective tax rate incrementally until property taxes are abolished.
“I will support and co-sponsor bills that will lower and work towards eliminating property taxes for good in Texas.”
House District 122
Neither Mark Dorazio nor Elisa Chan responded to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.
House District 133
“In 2023, Texas will have an opportunity to do even more to reduce the property tax burden on Texas families. Texas along with 12 other states successfully sued the Biden administration to allow funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to be used for tax reduction. On May 7, Texas voters will go to the polls to vote on two constitutional amendments to reduce the current property tax burden. Senator Paul Bettencourt’s SJR2 uses $3 billion of the $16 billion ARPA funds to increase residential homestead exemptions from $25,000 to $40,000, further reducing school property taxes for taxpayers by an estimated $175 per year.
“My plan to cut property taxes is simple, by doing what we know works and continuing to compress the school M&O rate while also ensuring we limit spending to make property tax relief sustainable and permanent. I will also lead to reduce the current cap on the annual appraised value increase.”
Shelley Torian Barineau
“I am committed to real property tax relief for all Texans. Senator Paul Bettencourt’s tax relief initiatives on the ballot for May 7 is a great start; however, we must unite to defeat radicals like Lina Hidalgo, who increased Harris County’s property tax rates by the maximum allowed by law.”