As Texas lawmakers gear up for a potential special legislative session focused on education, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility has asked Gov. Greg Abbott to prioritize property tax elimination.
The organization sent a letter to Abbott calling on him to call a third special legislative session on eliminating property taxes.
TFR said they support Abbott calling a special session on education freedom “so long as it is directed towards real, fiscally sound, education freedom for all Texas families.”
However, the group also asked Abbott to include “legislation that provides a pathway to property tax elimination, a cause that you have publicly supported in the recent past.”
After the regular session earlier this year, Abbott called two special sessions focused on property tax relief and border security. After the first special session ended with no results, Abbott issued a second call asking lawmakers to pass legislation putting the state on a path toward eliminating school property taxes.
However, after the Texas House and Senate reached a compromise deal, Abbott removed that request from his special session call.
Last month, Abbott signed Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3 into law.
Senate Bill 2 increased the homestead exemption to $100,000 and used around $7 billion to additionally buy down—or “compress”—local school property taxes. Additionally, the compromise plan included what they have called a “20% circuit breaker” appraisal cap on non-homesteaded properties under $5 million in value for a three-year pilot program.
Senate Bill 3, meanwhile, increased the exemption for the business franchise tax from $1 million to $2.47 million.
Although Abbott touted the legislation as the “largest tax cut in Texas history—$18 billion,” TFR President Tim Hardin has refuted Abbott’s claim.
“Abbott saying this is the largest in history at $18B is deceptive,” said Hardin. “It’s only $12.7B. It’s sad politicians have to be deceptive for no reason.”
“While most property owners will see at least some tax relief, this number, unfortunately, falls short of actually being the largest property tax cut in Texas history, with the first-place spot going to relief passed in 2008,” according to TFR’s political director Andrew McVeigh.
Now, TFR is calling on Abbott to fulfill his campaign promises:
As a part of your reelection campaign, while participating in the gubernatorial debate in September of 2022, you stated: “My goal is to eliminate the school property tax that’s imposed in the State of Texas, so that people can genuinely own their own home, without being taxed out of it.”
“You also expressed support for a pathway to school Maintenance and Operations property tax elimination when you officially included it in your original second special session call, issued on June 27th of this year,” wrote TFR.
The organization asked Abbott to include additional measures that would lead to the abolishment of property taxes.
“We further request that you include on your call a ban of taxpayer-funded lobbying, and spending limits on local governments in Texas,” wrote TFR. “Both of which would significantly aid in the elimination of the property tax in the Lone Star State.”
Hardin stressed to Texas Scorecard that Abbott has yet to fulfill his original property tax promise to voters.
“While there was progress made during the 2nd called special, the legislature did not accomplish the original call of Abbott,” said Hardin. “Abbott’s original call was for the elimination of M&O property taxes, which he later revised when a compromise was reached. The Republican party platform calls for the Elimination of M&O through surplus buy down.”
Only with the elimination of property taxes will Texans’ private property rights be restored. Eliminating the school M&O portion is the logical first step to this, and we look forward to Abbott coming through on his promise to do so.
TFR instructed concerned citizens to contact Abbott and “ask that he include these crucial policy issues on the next special session call.”
Abbott has not responded to a request for comment as to whether he will add the issue to the special session call.