Texas voters are currently allowed to vote on dramatic property tax hikes levied by school boards. But a minority of House Republicans joined a united Democrat Caucus to try and repeal that protection.
In 2017, the Texas House passed a bill that would have allowed certain school districts to raise property taxes without voter approval. The measure was a departure from current state law, which protects taxpayers by requiring that school districts seek voter approval for excessive tax hikes.

The anti-taxpayer measure ­– known legislatively as House Bill 486 (HB 486) – was passed with a minority of Republicans joining a united Democrat Caucus. It was also strongly supported by the public education lobby.
Specifically, representatives from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the Fast Growth Schools Coalition, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), and several large school districts, testified in support of HB 486 during its committee hearing.
With Republicans firmly in charge of the Texas House – outnumbering Democrats 95 to 55 – HB 486 should have never passed the chamber. Nor should it have ever made it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.
In addition to repealing taxpayer protections, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) and his Ways and Means Committee Chairman, State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R­–Angleton), obstructed property tax reform (Senate Bill 2) during the regular session.
SB 2 would have allowed Texans a vote on city, county, and other property tax hikes, similar to what’s required of school districts. Straus eventually killed SB 2 in the special session, despite support from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The passing of HB 486, and the death of SB 2, is largely due to Straus stacking the powerful Ways and Means Committee with his loyalists, including Chairman Bonnen. Bonnen stalled SB 2 while fast-tracking HB 486 out of committee on a unanimous vote (9-0). Those nine committee members were:
Bonnen, State Reps. Dwayne Bohac (R–Houston), Drew Darby (R–San Angelo), Jim Murphy (R–Houston), Andrew Murr (R–Junction), Hugh Shine (R–Temple), Drew Springer (R–Muenster), Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton), Yvonne Davis (D–Dallas), Eric Johnson (D–Dallas), and Richard Pena Raymond (D–Laredo).
As previously mentioned, HB 486 ultimately passed the House, despite a majority of Republicans rightly opposing the measure. Perhaps no other bill this session better demonstrates which Republicans were willing to side with the education lobby, and Democrats, over their own taxpaying constituents.
The 42 House Republicans who joined the entire Democrat caucus to pass HB 486 were:
State Reps. Trent Ashby (R–Lufkin), Ernest Bailes (R­–Shepherd), Cecil Bell (R–Magnolia), Cindy Burkett (R–Sunnyvale), DeWayne Burns (R–Cleburne), Angie Button (R–Richardson), Giovanni Capriglione (R–Keller), Travis Clardy (R–Nacogdoches), Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), Scott Cosper (R–Killeen), Tom Craddick (R–Midland), Drew Darby (R–San Angelo), Sarah Davis (R–Houston), Dan Flynn (R–Canton), Charlie Geren (R–River Oaks), Lance Gooden (R–Forney), Dan Huberty (R­–Kingwood), Kyle Kacal (R–Bryan), Ken King (R–Canadian), Linda Koop (R–Dallas), John Kuempel (R–Seguin), Stan Lambert (R–Abilene), J.M. Lozano (R–Kingsville), Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), Geanie Morrison (R–Victoria), Jim Murphy (R–Houston), Andrew Murr (R–Junction), Tom Oliverson (R–Cypress), Chris Paddie (R–Marshall), Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont), Larry Phillips (R–Sherman), John Raney (R–College Station), Kevin Roberts (R–Houston), Mike Schofield (R–Katy), J.D. Sheffield (R–Gatesville), Hugh Shine (R–Temple), Drew Springer (R–Muenster), Lynn Stucky (R–Denton), Ed Thompson (R–Pearland), Gary VanDeaver (R–Clarksville), Jason Villalba (R–Dallas), Paul Workman (R–Austin).
For a vote-by-vote breakdown of your state lawmakers’ record on the 2017 Fiscal Responsibility Index, including HB 486, visit index.empowertexans.com.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.