Amid record-high inflation rates and rising gas prices, Texas will hold a special election on May 7, 2022, to vote on two propositions focused on lowering property taxes.

Over the past two decades, property tax rates across the state have increased by 181 percent, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation. In response to this drastic rise, more than three-quarters of Texas Republicans approved a recent proposition included on the March primary ballot in favor of eliminating property taxes.

After failing to pass meaningful property tax relief in the last legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a special election for May 7, 2022, where citizens will vote on two propositions aiming to provide property tax relief for some across the state.

The first proposition included on May’s ballot would lower the property tax rate on homesteads for both disabled residents and those over the age of 65. Specifically, the amendment would limit the amount of school maintenance and operations taxes those residents are required to pay.

Proposition 2 also pertains to homesteads. This amendment proposes to increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000. According to State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston), who proposed both amendments, Proposition 2 will lower property taxes for homestead owners by close to $175 per year.

Bettencourt promoted both propositions as effective strategies for lowering property taxes and highlighted how much Texans could save annually if voters approve the measures.

“If passed, both of these propositions will cut independent school district property tax bills by increasing homeowner exemptions that will save money for all 5.67 million homesteads in the State of Texas,” said Bettencourt. “Over 65 homeowners will see their freeze values actually decline, and lifetime savings from both bills in the many thousands.”

However, some believe that the propositions do not go far enough to alleviate the financial strain caused by property taxes, and that lawmakers should instead focus on eliminating them completely.

With the May special election less than two months away, Tim Hardin, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, expressed his belief that the amendments will not provide enough financial relief for Texas citizens and chastised lawmakers for failing to pass property tax relief legislation.

“Many Texans are looking forward to voting on the property tax propositions that will be on the ballot on May 7, 2022, but it is wise to remind ourselves why these proposals are on the ballot as opposed to real property tax relief,” said Hardin. “The homestead exemption increase and the newest property tax carveout are a direct result of the failure of the Legislature to act on property tax relief in the regular session and the subsequent three special sessions.”

Hardin highlighted the two propositions’ flaws and called on lawmakers to bring true property tax relief to Texans in the 2023 legislative session.

“Although we are not against additional exemptions, these ballot propositions are simply throwing taxpayers a bone due to lawmakers failing to do what taxpayers wanted,” said Hardin. “Hopefully in the next legislative session, lawmakers will provide actual property tax relief and give these surplus dollars to their rightful owners: Texas taxpayers.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.