Texas Lawmakers Downplay Need for Property Tax Relief - Texas Scorecard

At a recent meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, several legislators downplayed concerns about rising property taxes and instead pointed to recent legislation as providing adequate relief.

The committee met over the Legislature’s interim period to consider issues concerning property tax relief and tax exemptions.

After listening to witness testimony from two Texas Comptroller’s Office employees, Democrat State Sen. John Whitmire (D–Houston) expressed concern over large corporations receiving tax breaks while average Texans continue bearing most of the tax burden. Whitmire also highlighted how home appraisal values skyrocketed this year, which may lead to higher property taxes.

In response, Committee Chair Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston) brought attention to House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 2. Huffman stressed that both pieces of legislation should ease Texans’ overall tax burdens and described them as providing “historic property tax relief.”

HB 3 focused on school finance and set aside more than $5 billion for lowering property taxes. Similarly, SB 2 requires cities to hold an election if they want to raise property taxes at a rate higher than 3.5 percent. The bill also allows cities to lower their tax rates to match the “no-new-revenue rate.” This means they would collect the same tax revenue as in the previous year.

Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills) supported Huffman’s comments and encouraged his fellow committee members to “wait on the process” and address Texans’ concerns about tax increases once final property tax bills are issued in October. He then explained how many Texans may still see their taxes rise this year.

“With the inflation that we’ve had and the appraisal values that we’ve had, you’re going to see some with some growth,” said Hancock. “You actually may have some with a decrease if their property values did not change in certain areas and the tax rate lowers. Then it is feasible, and probably some will see, a reduction in their taxes from the previous year because of SB 2 and HB 3.”

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) disputed Hancock’s claim and implored lawmakers to take direct action and meaningfully reduce Texans’ property taxes.

“In this interaction between seemingly ‘tone-deaf’ lawmakers, their real feelings about tax relief were on full display,” wrote TFR.

The “historic” tax relief that lawmakers continue to promote from 2019 will result in … your tax burdens continuing to rise! IF you are lucky and your home appraisal did not go up (whose house has stayed the same value in the last 2 years?) AND if your school district is kind enough to do the right thing and lower their rate (we won’t hold our breath) you MIGHT see a small amount of relief.

The organization also highlighted its new plan to eliminate property taxes and called on Texans to take action and promote the cause.

“All of this is why TFR recently released our Texas Prosperity Plan,” wrote TFR. “We believe that it is time to stop playing defense and allowing these politicians to gaslight us into thinking we have experienced some sort of relief,” wrote TFR. “No one’s bill is going down, and I have bad news for everyone: it is very unlikely that is going to change anytime soon unless we do something about it.”