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  • The RO Team

Unresolved Property Tax Issue: Abbott Indicates Potential for Multiple Special Sessions

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Governor Greg Abbott hinted on Friday that a single special session may not suffice to determine the allocation of $12.3 billion in property tax breaks previously approved by the Legislature. Additionally, he confirmed plans for a future special session to address the topic of "school choice," without providing a specific timeframe, stating only that it would occur "after we get property tax reform fixed."

Speaking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event in Austin, where he summarized the regular legislative session, Abbott highlighted a House-approved plan, requested by him, that aims to lower tax rates for school districts. "If we do that, that will cut your property tax rate for school maintenance and operation by 29%," Abbott explained.

Notably absent from his remarks was any mention of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who had previously criticized the House plan endorsed by Abbott during an event hosted by the same right-wing think tank and through pointed tweets throughout the week. Patrick argued that the Senate's favored plan would provide greater tax relief for homeowners, as opposed to the House plan, which would offer similar benefits to both homeowners and commercial property owners.

During his conversation with TPPF CEO Greg Sindelar, Abbott presented the House plan as a step toward the ultimate goal of completely eliminating property taxes—a vision shared by the think tank and many conservatives. He emphasized the need to "dream big" and aspire to a Texas without property taxes, earning applause as he echoed the sentiment of anti-tax advocates who view property taxes as an annual rent imposed by the government on homeowners.

While the Senate's plan centers on increasing the homestead exemption to provide tax relief, the House's plan focuses on reducing tax rates, which aligns more closely with the objective of eliminating property taxes altogether, according to analysis by the Tribune.

However, Abbott's preferred plan has yet to make significant progress. Although the House passed its bill on Tuesday and adjourned, the Senate has the option to either accept it as is or wait for the governor to call another special session for further deliberation. Lt. Governor Patrick, who holds substantial influence over the Senate, firmly stated that the chamber would not yield. In fact, he went a step further, expressing that the plan supported by Abbott and TPPF to eliminate all property taxes is deemed unrealistic by all.

On Friday, the Senate convened for the first time since the House adjourned. With most senators absent during the brief session, several bills related to border issues were referred to committee before the Senate adjourned until Tuesday at 6 p.m. No action was taken on the House-passed property tax bill.


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