UPDATED September 29.
Texans are a step closer to real property tax relief, as legislation to buy down local school taxes with state surpluses finally saw its first action in the Texas House this week.
On Monday, House Speaker Dade Phelan sent the first batch of bills filed in the ongoing third special session to committees, where they must receive public hearings before advancing.
The bills include three measures to lower all Texans’ property tax bills by using excess money in the state budget to replace local school maintenance and operations (M&O) taxes, reducing the tax burden on property owners:
- Senate Bill 1 by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) proposes a one-time tax rate buy-down of $2-4 billion for the 2022-23 school year. Bettencourt said the measure would lower the average Texas homeowner’s property tax bill by about $200-$400, depending on how much surplus general funds the state comptroller certifies next year. SB 1 passed the Senate last week 30-1.
- House Bill 90, also by Oliverson, is a stronger relief bill that establishes a permanent formula to buy down school M&O property taxes with available surpluses. Texans for Fiscal Responsibility believes HB 90 could eventually result in the elimination of the school M&O property tax.
All three bills were referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee chairman, State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), scheduled a public hearing on SB 1 and HB 90 for Thursday, September 30. Texans can testify on the bills in person or submit comments online.
Both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Phelan named property tax relief as a priority for the ongoing third special legislative session, and Gov. Greg Abbott added it to his special session agenda last week.
Three weeks remain the current session for lawmakers to deliver tax relief to Texans.