After just over an hour of deliberation, the Texas Senate committee and the full Senate validated a bill that promises record tax relief for homeowners.
During a press conference held Tuesday at the Capitol, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick informed reporters, “The Senate has sanctioned the largest tax cut in history.”
For weeks, Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan have been engaged in a public debate over different plans, expressing themselves in press conferences, statements and social media posts.
However, Patrick explained that he worked closely with members of the Senate over the weekend to develop a revamped bill that he expects to be reviewed by the House in the remaining week of the special session called by the governor.
Senate Bill 26 provides a total of $18 billion in property tax relief, which is $400 million more than previously budgeted. Senators, however, claim that the state has the resources.
This new bill would mean an increase in homestead exemptions up to $100,000 for most homeowners and up to $110,000 for those over 65.
Senators indicate that this plan would allow a savings of nearly $2,600 for most homeowners and nearly $3,000 for those over 65 in the first two years.
Senator Royce West of Dallas stated that all Texans support this proposal. “Today, Democrats and Republicans come together in support. While we have had differences in the past, we embrace this for the well-being of our constituents.”
Once passed by the Senate, the bill must also receive approval from the Texas House of Representatives.
They had sanctioned their own legislation, backed by Abbott, weeks earlier and then backed out of town.
Like the Senate plan, the House plan reduces property tax rates and replaces them with state revenues. Unlike the Senate plan, however, it does not include an increase in the homestead exemption.
Abbott has expressed his desire for the state to progressively replace property taxes earmarked for public schools with state revenues, to which the lieutenant governor has responded that this is not a viable option.
Following the press conference, Renae Eze, Abbott’s communications director, issued a statement, “The governor has been clear in his goal to put Texans on the path toward eliminating M&O property taxes from their schools…”
Patrick urged, “We sincerely want the Texas House of Representatives to come back and pass this bill. I would ask Governor Abbott to take a serious look at this package and support it.”
Senior Senator John Whitmire criticized Abbott for vetoing 77 bills to pressure lawmakers to pass a property tax bill.
Finally, an increase in the homestead exemption in the Texas Constitution is due for a vote in November. If passed, the tax cuts would be retroactive and include this year.
To get on the ballot, the House and Senate would have to reach consensus on a bill and send it to the governor within six weeks.