(Central Square) – Ahead of the Texas Legislature’s convening Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick outlined 21 priorities that he hopes will be considered in the 88th Legislative Session. At the top of the list are property tax exemptions.
According to the Texas Tax Foundation ranks sixth in property taxes, paid as a percentage of the value of owner-occupied housing. It is ranked 11th in collecting state and local property tax per capita of $2,098 per year.
“We have an exceptional opportunity that we have never had before to chart the future of Texas and create a vision,” he said when he first laid out his plan last month.
Patrick pointed to the huge financial growth of Texas, noting that in January 2005, available total income was $64.7 billion. As of July 2022, it stood at $149 billion, including a $27 billion surplus.
His agenda is property tax exemption, but not at the expense of spending even half of the surplus, he said, contrary to the law. pledge taken last fall by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Patrick said the legislature could increase the homestead tax exemption to at least $60,000, giving taxpayers about $2 billion in relief. Even though the last legislative session raised homeland reliefs, saving the average homeowner less than $200 in their property tax bill, most Texans saw their property taxes only go up, and exponentially.
Several deputies started filing invoices last fall to address this issue, including proposals that would limit how much the assessed value of an ad valorem homestead tax could be increased.
While groups such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility have called on state leaders to return all of the surplus to taxpayers in the form of a property tax credit, Patrick said the legislature is not going to spend all of the surplus.
“We’re not going to spend all the money,” he said. “You don’t know what’s ahead. It would be foolish to spend every dollar.”
He also said the legislature can’t even spend half the money on property tax breaks because that would “break the spending cap.”
Other priorities listed by Patrick included strengthening the state’s power grid, continued funding for border security and law enforcement, calling for a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes, changing state laws to allow voters to recall district attorneys, expanding scholarship programs for college, as well as additional government spending on multibillion-dollar institutions of higher education and the salaries of public school teachers. He also expressed support for a “parents’ bill of rights”.
Patrick said the legislature needs to strengthen electoral law after it weakened an electoral reform bill last session that was softened by Democrats, voted for by Republicans and signed into law by Abbott. Advertised as a strong voter reform bill, it actually weakened the existing law, reducing the charge of illegal voting from a felony to a class A misdemeanor. The weakened bill was fought by Democrats who broke a quorum and suspended legislative proceedings for more than a month by fleeing to the Capitol USA.
Patrick said his plan is an overview and legislators should submit bills. At least 1,635 bills had been submitted as of January 9, according to state legislature data.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has proposed lowering property taxes by limiting government spending and the size of government.
“From the point of view of a limited government, explains, “the most ideal option would be to prevent new growth in the next government budget.” The spending cap “would demonstrate incredible fiscal discipline, control over the growth of the new government, and provide the maximum amount of resources for the purposes of tax credits.”
In its conservative 2024-2025 Texas budget, TPPF offers the legislature undertakes to pass a budget with zero growth. If he can’t do that, he suggests the following better alternatives: keeping the budget in line with historical population and inflation trends (12%) or keeping it at the maximum population and inflation expectations (16%).
At these percentage levels, initial appropriation caps for the 2024-25 budget will freeze 0% growth to $245 billion, 12% growth to $274 billion, and 16% growth to $284.5 billion, it says. .
He also notes that these limits should be seen as “the ceiling, not the floor”.
Historical inflation and modest population growth are projected to reach nearly 16% over the next two years. While this could provide policymakers with “tremendous spending potential,” it is “the least ideal option, as it would increase the size of government to uncomfortable levels, greatly reduce the scope for maximum tax breaks, and potentially set the stage for a difficult 2025 legislative session.” “