There has been much demand in Texas for property tax reform, as price values keep spiking, driving up tax bills home owners pay each year. Seth Perlman AP
There has been much demand in Texas for property tax reform, as price values keep spiking, driving up tax bills home owners pay each year. Seth Perlman AP

PoliTex

From DFW to Austin to D.C., our insiders take you beyond the usual rhetoric

PoliTex

Chances are slim and none that Texas lawmakers are going to cut property taxes

By Anna M. Tinsley

atinsley@star-telegram.com

August 04, 2017 7:45 PM

If you’re looking to Austin, hoping state lawmakers will give you some sort of property tax relief this year, you may be out of luck.

With less than two weeks remaining in this special session, many say the chances of Texans seeing any property tax relief during this special session are slim to none.

“The last thing I want is property tax payers to believe that we are doing something to reduce or lower their tax burden,” said state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, an Angleton Republican and chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, according to the Texas Tribune. “We’re not.

“We don’t have the ability to do that, but what we do have is the ability to give it protections and transparency.”

The countdown is on until the last day of the special session — Aug. 16. But here’s a look at some of what lawmakers are exploring on property tax relief.

Senate: Senate Bill 1 would drop the current rollback rate — which, if it generates an increase of more than 8 percent in revenue, lets voters petition for an election to roll back the tax rate — to 4 percent.

House: A handful of bills are being considered in the lower chamber. Among them: House Bill 4 pegs that rollback rate at 6 percent and exempts communities that generate $25 million or less; HB 72 lets Texans decide whether to exempt Purple Heart recipients from property taxes; and HB 32 brings more clarity to how tax rates and property values impact tax bills.

“Property taxes are the most hated in Texas, and Republican legislators are using all the levers they can to reduce the burden on homeowners,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “The trouble is that the state doesn’t have much money to spare in the budget, so major tax relief is not likely.

“This is in part why the Legislature has focused on limiting local property tax growth rather than increasing the homestead exemption.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Ron T. Ennis

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said he sees a clear need for change.

“Texans are being crushed,” Abbott recently wrote in an op-ed piece. “No government should be able to tax people out of their homes.”

Back to Fort Worth

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is making his way back to Fort Worth on Aug. 11.

This is the second time in a matter of months that the El Paso Democrat challenging Republican Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat next year is making his way here to rally support for next year’s election.

He last held a meet and greet in April at a local brewing company.

Now O’Rourke, considered by many a long shot for the Senate seat, has scheduled an appearance for 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, at a yet-to-be-determined location in Fort Worth.

The Tarrant County Democratic Woman’s Club is helping promote the event and says more information is soon to come.

O’Rourke, a punk rocker turned congressman, is continuing to travel around the state meeting residents, trying to drum up support for his long-shot bid.

The most recent campaign finance reports show O’Rourke outraised Cruz, $2.1 million to $1.6 million, between April and June.

El Paso Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke
Ruben R. Ramirez AP

Cruz — a former presidential candidate whose strongholds have long included the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex — was quick to point out that he has much more in the bank than his Democratic challenger.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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