Led by State Rep. John Bryant of Dallas, a group of progressive Texas Democrats announced a new package of measures that surpasses any previous proposals.
Texas Democrats in the state House are seizing the opportunity to present their own ideas on property tax relief as negotiations with Republicans stall
Bryant’s bill suggests allocating $20.9 billion to offer homestead exemptions of up to $200,000, cash rebates for renters, permanent pay increases for teachers, and some reductions in school district tax rates. The plan aims to address the issue of Texans paying high property taxes while the state ranks poorly in supporting public education.
Under House Bill 62, the basic allotment for public schools would be raised by $1,000 and indexed to inflation, resulting in a yearly pay increase of $4,300 for teachers. Rep. Christina Morales of Houston emphasized that the surplus funds should be used to provide relief to Texans burdened by property taxes, prioritizing individuals and families over corporations. The Texas Democrats’ proposal includes a $3.8 billion allocation to give renters a cash rebate of up to 10% of their previous year’s rent payment.
Furthermore, the Texas Democrats’ plan grants homeowners an exemption of either $100,000 or 25% of their home’s appraised value. In contrast, the Texas Senate supports a standardized exemption of $100,000 for all homesteads. Currently, homeowners can only exempt $40,000 from property taxes.
The Texas Democrats’ proposal also involves a strategy called “compression,” which requires the state to assume a larger portion of local tax burdens and mandates school districts to lower their tax rates accordingly
However, Republicans in the House, including Governor Greg Abbott, exclusively support this strategy and aim to eliminate the maintenance and operations tax entirely, investing the full $17.6 billion in compression. Texas Democrats argue that this approach neglects the needs of renters and teachers, calling it unrealistic and unsustainable.
The Texas Democrats’ plan introduces several significant changes, but it remains unclear how it aligns with existing proposals and whether it will gain support from House leadership. Rep. Bryant intends to discuss their ideas with Speaker Dade Phelan promptly, seeking to advance the discussion on property tax relief in Texas.