A new report by the Rockefeller Institute finds that, while other states are sagging, Texas sales tax revenues are up 12 percent from last July through March and the Comptroller is predicting a $10.7 billion surplus. Thus, the national economic slowdown, which has reduced revenues in some states, will not be an excuse for failing to deliver property tax relief.
And such relief is much needed. At an interim hearing this past week on appraisal creep, Frank Corte, president of Pioneer Homes and the father of Rep. Frank Corte (R-Sa Antonio), testified concerning the skyrocketing tax burden on his 72-unit apartment complex.
The units rent for between $400 and $571. Over five years, the average rent rose by $50 while the complex’s taxes ballooned from $25,000 to more than $43,000. Rentals are not covered by the 10 percent appraisal cap that itself is inadequate, as it allows de facto property tax increases to exceed population and inflation, which is between four and five percent.
There is talk about putting much of the surplus into the rainy day fund rather than into buying down property taxes, but the fund already has $4 billion and money in the fund is likely to be used for more government spending in the future. By lowering taxes, Texas can continue to grow its economy at a faster pace than the nation, ensuring we won’t have many rainy days.