In last week’s special election, more than 80 percent of Texas voters approved two ballot propositions focused on lowering property tax rates.

According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas’ property tax rates have increased by 181 percent over the last two decades. As inflation rates and gas prices also continue to rise across the country, more Texans are calling for property tax relief.

In the March primary election, more than 75 percent of Republican voters in Texas approved a ballot proposition in favor of eliminating property taxes across the state. Specifically, the proposition asked voters if they agreed that “Texas should eliminate all property taxes within ten (10) years without implementing a state income tax.”

Although eliminating property taxes is already a part of the official Republican Party platform, state lawmakers have yet to make meaningful progress on the issue. Of the multiple bills proposed in the last legislative session that would have started the process of shrinking property taxes, none were prioritized by top Republican lawmakers.

In response to Texans’ concerns about rising property tax rates, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a special election day for May 7, where voters could either approve or reject two ballot propositions approved by the Legislature in a special session last fall that focused on lowering property taxes for some Texans.

Proposition 1 on the ballot would lower the property tax rate on homesteads for 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.

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

Sen. Bettencourt promoted both propositions as effective tools for lowering property tax rates and highlighted how much Texans could save if they approved both 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.”

In last week’s election, more than 86 percent of Texas residents approved Proposition 1, which will go into effect January 1, 2023. Additionally, more than 84 percent of voters approved Proposition 2, which has a retroactive start date of January 1, 2022, and will go into effect immediately.

Some, however, believe the amendments do not go far enough to relieve the financial strain property taxes inflict on Texans. Tim Hardin, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, expressed his belief that lawmakers should eliminate property taxes instead of simply reducing their burden on Texas taxpayers.

“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.