Will Texas Lawmakers Compromise on a Bill to Save You Money on Your Property Taxes?

AUSTIN -- All eyes are on the Texas Senate, as lawmakers on Thursday await the opportunity to debate priority legislation to overhaul property taxes across the state. House Bill 2, a bill that would cap local government property tax growth at 2.5 percent a year, is scheduled for a marathon debate on the House floor. However, House members recessed in the middle of the day as word circulated around the Capitol that the Senate was mulling taking its own vote on their version of the bill Senate Bill 2. For weeks, it seemed as though the House would have the easier path forward to passing the property tax bill, which is a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. But on Thursday morning, a key opponent of the bill in the Senate expressed that he was open to compromise. Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, previously said he opposed a 2.5 percent property tax cap as written in Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2. His opposition could prevent the bill from being debated on the Senate floor because of a requirement in the Senate that 19 members agree to hear a bill. There are 19 Republicans, which means that his defection could allow Democrats to block the bill. But on Thursday, while he said he still opposed a 2.5 percent cap, he said he was having productive conversations about a potential compromise. "If there's a way I can help, then great," he said. "So what we've been doing this morning is talking to county judges and school district people about what we can live with, because there's a tremendous sentiment and inertia to do something about property taxes."Meanwhile, Abbott may have drawn a line in the sand which could impact the House's version of the bill. The original version of the House and Senate bills applied the cap to school districts, special taxing districts and local governments, with each district being able to exceed the cap with an election. But the House Ways and Means committee stripped school districts and special taxing districts from the bill. Abbott said Thursday he "absolutely" wanted schools to be included in the legislation. But he demurred when asked about whether the Legislature should hold the line at 2.5 percent -- a limit he campaigned on. "You know, I'm not talking to you about this," when asked if he needs a 2.5 percent cap. "The information will be pretty clear pretty soon."Even Democrats in the House expressed a willingness to compromise on a path forward for the property tax bill. "We're still talking," said Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin. Rodriguez said he would be meeting later in the afternoon with Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, who authored the House property tax bill. Rodriguez, who voted against the bill in the House Ways and Means committee, said he would like to see some concessions on the bill, like an exception on public safety spending or something that would guarantee that any revenue growth cap would factor in inflation."A 2.5 percent cap in and of itself is not a deal-breaker for me," he said. "It depends on what else you add to it so it doesn't cripple cities or counties."  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us