Texas House delays property tax debate

Texas Politics
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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas House has delayed its property tax debate until a week from Wednesday, after initially slating it to be taken up Monday.

Ways and Means committee chairman Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, moved to postpone the property tax bill, which he authored, until Wednesday, April 24.

“Looks like we’re waiting on a Senate bill,” Burrows said.

Lawmakers will soon debate how to spend Texans’ state taxes. Representatives pre-filed 180 amendments. Three Democrats filed the most, led by San Antonio’s Trey Martinez Fischer with 13, followed by Austin’s Eddie Rodriguez with 10, and Brownsville’s Alex Dominguez with eight.

The House held off on discussion of House Bill 2, which was supposed to take place Thursday, while the Senate faced a standoff to even bring their version of the bill to the floor. The Senate debated its version, Senate Bill 2, on Monday, while House leaders opted to wait until the upper chamber tackled its version on the floor.

The legislation aims to limit how quickly property taxes increase in the state, which would require voter approval.

The newest twist came from the top three state leaders. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen introduced a proposal late last week to increase the state sales tax by a penny. The plan would be contingent on the passage of House Bill 2 or Senate Bill 2.

The trio released a joint statement last week:

“Texans are fed up with skyrocketing property taxes. At the beginning of the legislative session, the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker laid out an agenda for property tax relief through the passage of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2 to limit property tax growth. In addition to that effort, today we are introducing a sales tax proposal to buy down property tax rates for all Texas homeowners and businesses, once Senate Bill 2 or House Bill 2 is agreed to and passed by both Chambers. If the one-cent increase in the sales tax passes, it will result in billions of dollars in revenue to help drive down property taxes in the short and long term.”

That plan was met with mixed reaction from lawmakers.

“This eventually will go to the voters. This is democracy in process. This is democracy in action, where folks can, can really have those debates and decide, you know, which route they want to go,” State Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, said. 

A coalition of House Democrats worried that raising the sales tax to buy down rates would not help families with lower incomes.

“I am not inclined to support an initiative that’s only going to hurt working families who are just trying to buy groceries,” State Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, said.

The House debate streams live and is archived.

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