Three sessions we’ve been fighting for state help on the property tax relief; worked pretty much full-time this session on it. And we feel not much closer to anything substantial. But we’ve listened and watched, even come up with the 3.5% compromise number months ago that things are currently focused on. So, even though this looks like it could go to a special session. we thought we’d lay out one last, ‘line in the sand, no farther’ set of parameters for a MINIMALLY acceptable solution:
This session of the Texas Legislature has- so far- been full of disappointments. So much so, some ‘awards’ have already been earned. SO here they are. Hopefully, we’ll be pleasantly shocked by how it all will end and these will become meaningless.
First, the good one:
Then one of- disappointment:
And the last- well, it is what it is.
All of the GOP leadership plans for a careful ballet of massive spending increases coupled with VERY temporary property tax relief crumbled on Thursday and things are in disarray. The Texas House was working on the supposition (maybe a promise made by some people in the back room) that, despite the many extra billions given to education, they would be completely exempt from any lowering of the 8% rollback rate. Currently, there exists a ‘rollback rate’ (8%) at which voter can PETITION to have an election to overturn. HB2 has LOWER rates (2.5%) and have a REQUIREMENT for an election item on the November ballot to get voter approval. They talked their way into removing the school portion from the HB2 ‘voter approved rate’ bill (along with Hospital and special districts). then they reneged on adding any kind of cap into HB3, the education spending bill.
This apparently ticked off Gov. Abbott into saying he will NOT sign any bill without a school cap (and he doubled down with the legislators in private, calling for a 2.5% HARD cap on the local education piece; one that could NOT be overruled by a voter approval.) HB2 was pulled off the floor in the House, where the authors are scrambling now fto come up with all sorts of amendments and gain support for them, while Lt. Gov. is saying if he doesn’t have a deal to get the far stronger SB2 voter approved rate bill a vote on the floor, he’ll invoke a ‘nuclear option that will require only a simple majority to call for a vote on the floor rather than the 3/5th.
On top of this, the leadership is now trying to push HJR3, an increase in overall sales tax of one cent, supposedly to go all to buying down property taxes (though there has been an amendment floated to throw 25% of it at teacher pay). This AFTER both houses already have signed off on spending the vast majority of the largest increase of revenue the State of Texas has ever seen on education (and, in the House, 1% on a SMALL property tax relief package), PLUS spending $1 billion from the Rainy Day reserve for ongoing expenses. On top of this, the idea requires a 2/3rds vote. Since the Democrats have already come out in opposition, ‘buying the 17 Democrat votes they need in the House and 2 in the Senate would come at a VERY steep price in tax money and government growth. Yeah, a great idea for the voters to vote on this GOP-supported tax increase (swap) in November 2019, something voters are likely to recall as the 2020 election season starts up. The Texas GOP is saying 14+% growth in spending was not enough; they need more to keep their number 1 promise; property tax relief (by taking it for the OTHER pocket). Other approaches of swaps and relief are being discounted at this point; they would impinge on what can only be called ‘fiscal Christmas time for Education’.
A strong and LARGE presence of insistent (but still somewhat respectful) overburdened property taxpayers to demand PERMANENT and SIGNIFICANT property tax relief with no shell games could not come at a better time. PLEASE, take this one day off in your busy life to make a true difference. Rally starts at noon, so time to drive in from all over the state. You can time departure either just before Austin rusd hour (3:30 pm) or hopefully- for more time helping roam the halls and advocating in the offices of the senators & representatives- right after rush hour (about 6:30pm).