Higher Property Taxes and Storm-chasing Roofers Are Targets for ‘reform.' Not So for Electricity.

When I look at the 2019 Texas Legislature, I see a three-ring circus. But it's not what you think.In the center ring is property tax reform, an issue that affects everyone who owns a house or pays rent to a landlord. I've studied the new property tax "reform" bill speeding through the Legislature. Lawmakers can call it "reform" but it's more like a declaration of war against cities and counties. Your tax bill won't shrink, and I'll show you why.In a side ring is a roofer's registration bill to curb the criminal element from pretending they are roofers when they're actually swindlers. This has been an issue for more than 40 years. Yet I'll wager that this is the year for success. I'll show you why.The third ring of the circus showcases The Watchdog's multi-year campaign to convince state leaders to fix the electricity shopping system by eliminating marketing deceptions favored by electricity companies.That ring is dark. Nothing happening. All I see are some leftover sad clowns dressed as state utility commissioners.Property tax letdownHow does the property tax bill state lawmakers placed on a fast track affect your pocketbook?Basic fact: the proposal doesn't cut taxes, it only slows the rate of growth.If it becomes law as written, any time a city, county, school district or other taxing entity wants to raise property taxes too much, voters would have to approve the proposed tax increase in a November election.That alone sounds very fair. But the percent growth that triggers an election, as picked by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, is a nasty number.Only 2.5 percent.If a government wants to raise taxes above 2.5 percent in a year on existing properties, then there's an election.That's a low bar. I can see 4 or 6 percent, but 2.5 doesn't leave a lot of room for growth, for emergencies and most of all, for inflation. Cities, counties and school districts would be handcuffed, especially since community tax protests may grow louder in coming years. Finding a majority of approving voters may get harder.  Continue reading...

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