For the first time in recent memory, the Texas House and Senate appear to now be bidding up tax relief efforts.
In the past, tax relief efforts have seen lawmakers compromising downward, seemingly hoping to see who can get closest to none. That’s certainly been the case the last several legislative sessions.
Yet 2015 has been happily different.
It started with the Texas Senate offering $4 billion in tax relief — split between business and property taxes. Gov. Greg Abbott upped the ante in his State of the State Address to $4.2 billion, which the Senate answered by passing $4.6 billion in tax relief.
Along the way, House Speaker Joe Straus’ leadership team has referred to tax relief as “gimmicks.” Indeed, Straus put forward a budget plan early in session with no allowance made for reducing any taxes.
Then the GOP House membership clearly started realizing they were faced with going home empty-handed on tax relief.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen (R-Angelton) is reportedly looking to cut business taxes by an across-the-board 25 percent, while also cutting the sales tax rate by an unspecified amount. The Dallas Morning News reports that Bonnen will present details this coming week.
Bonnen’s explanation of why he is going after the 6.25% sales taxes ,rather than property taxes, will be interesting to hear. Politically, Texans have expressed little concern about the sales tax rate — especially when compared to the property tax burden.
More than 55 percent of Texans recently polled by the University of Texas reported being “satisfied” with the sales tax rate. On the other hand, nearly that same number reported being “dissatisfied” with the property tax burden.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Having lawmakers finally arguing over how much more tax relief they can offer is a welcome — and winning — improvement for Texas taxpayers.