The Senate Committee on Local Government met Wednesday to address several interim charges, including future property tax relief as Texans across the state face rising bills.
According to Tim Hardin, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, “The goal of the charge was to review the effect of Senate Bill 2 (86th Legislature – 2019), the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, and related legislation passed by the 87th Legislature (2021).”
The committee was also supposed to discuss possible recommendations for future property tax reform and relief.
However, rather than consider using some or all of the expected $27 billion surplus for property tax relief in 2023, Hardin says “the vast majority of the time was spent praising the reform from 2019, and the only person to even mention the surplus and paying down compression rates was, yet again, James Quintero of Texas Public Policy Foundation.”
Meanwhile, Texans are paying the sixth-highest property tax bills in the United States, and those bills have increased by 181 percent in the last 20 years.
TFR’s “Texas Prosperity Plan” is currently advocating for the elimination of property taxes altogether and suggests the Texas Legislature begin by using the $27 billion surplus to pay down the property taxes that school districts collect locally to pay for their Maintenance and Operations expenses, which account for about half of Texans’ property tax bills.
Hardin said, “The fact that no other testimony received at the hearing [besides Quintero’s] involved using the surplus to eliminate M&O shows where the Austin swamp is on the subject.”
Notably, Gov. Greg Abbott has said “at least half” of the $27 billion should be used for tax relief in the 2023 legislative session, while conservatives are calling for the entire surplus to go toward property tax relief.
“That surplus is in every sense OUR money,” explained Hardin previously. “And the government has no right to keep it, especially if the dominant party in Texas claims to be ‘fiscally conservative’ and advocates for small government.”