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Path to Property Tax Relief: Senate Plan to Provide Texans with $18 Billion

Texas officials continue to disagree on proposals to reduce property taxes. The largest property tax reduction proposal to date was unanimously passed by the Texas Senate on Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), claimed that the record $18 billion in tax relief provided by the Senate plan would directly benefit taxpayers who pay taxes for public schools throughout the state. His proposal would need to pass a constitutional amendment referendum.

However, it is uncertain whether the $18 billion plan can end the impasse between the state’s top officials on how to deliver tax relief.

As the biggest immediate benefit to homeowners and the main source of contention between the upper chamber and Governor Greg Abbott, the revised proposal maintains the Senate’s top priority of increasing the homestead exemption to $100,000. Additionally, it allocates $400 million extra toward Abbott’s preferred technique of buying down school district property tax rates.

According to Bettencourt, the ideal strategy for Texas taxpayers combines raising the homestead exemption with lowering tax rates. According to him, the Senate measure offers ‘eye-popping savings’ of around $1,300 annually for the typical homeowner.

The current proposal from the senators comes after weeks of deadlock between the upper chamber and the governor, who backs the rate-compression plan adopted by the house on the first day of the extraordinary legislative session. Top Republicans argued for months over how to reduce property taxes given Texas’ historic $33 billion budget surplus even during the regular session.

“The Governor stressed the need to create the conditions necessary for Texans to be exempt from paying property taxes for school Maintenance and Operations. He stated that the most effective and exclusive approach to achieving this goal is to focus on reducing property tax rates as a means of providing property tax relief,” he said. The Governor has also made it clear that a property tax bill cannot pass without approval from both the Texas House and Texas Senate, and he encourages the two houses to cooperate in finding a resolution, according to Eze.

The path seems set for Abbott to call a subsequent special session on property tax relief if there is no hint of agreement between the two chambers before the special session’s end next week.