With Governor Greg Abbott, the House, and the Senate locked in a stalemate over the optimal solution, tensions are running high.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan will convene to address their diverging views on providing school property tax relief for Texans
Governor Abbott’s recent call for a second special legislative session aims to pass a school property tax relief bill that prioritizes eliminating the school maintenance and operations (M&O) component of property taxes, the largest portion of the bill. To determine the feasibility of this proposal without compromising school funding, experts such as James LeBas have been consulted. LeBas, a former Chief Revenue Officer for Texas, suggested two approaches: a swift method necessitating additional state revenue through new taxes or fees, and a slower path that could span decades due to the dynamic nature of school property taxes.
Local homeowners like Jalee Gill, who have witnessed rising school property tax values and taxes over the years, are in favor of gradually eliminating the school M&O property tax. Gill emphasized the importance of consistency and expressed concerns about policymakers abandoning such an initiative.
While both the House and Senate have passed bills to lower school property tax rates and allocate more state revenues to fund schools, they differ in their approaches
The House plan, backed by Governor Abbott, focuses solely on this strategy, emphasizing its fairness for all property owners, including businesses. In contrast, the Senate’s bill offers $18 billion in school property tax relief, along with increasing the homestead exemption and business franchise exemption. The Senate’s plan would provide significant savings for homeowners and exempt 67,000 small businesses from paying the franchise school property tax.
Additionally, the Senate approved an amendment to allocate $3.2 billion for teacher bonuses, benefiting educators in districts of various sizes. These funds would be sourced from the state’s substantial budget surplus of nearly $33 billion. Further deliberations on school funding and teacher pay raises are expected in a subsequent special session called by Governor Abbott, who has also promised to address school choice legislation.
As the meeting between Lt. Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan approaches, the hope for consensus on school property tax relief remains uncertain. Nevertheless, the discussions and decisions made in the coming weeks will have a lasting impact on Texans and their financial burdens related to school property taxes.