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Senate Republican Caucus Recognizes Plight of Texas Property Taxpayers by Passing SB 2

April 15, 2019

 

Caucus Chair Paul Bettencourt authors Senate Bill 2, which passes 18-13, Texas Businesses and Homeowners finally catch a break from rising Property Taxes

 

AUSTIN– Senate Bill 2, authored by Chairman of the Texas Senate Republican Caucus, Senator Paul Bettencourt, passed the Senate with all 19 Republican members of the Senate voting to suspend the rules and bring Senate Bill 2 to the floor. Senator Bettencourt began his remarks by saying, “This is the day that taxpayers in Texas have long waited for.” Everyday Texans are being taxed out of their homes and their business are barely staying afloat with the rising property taxes. Senate Bill 2 addresses this by putting a 3.5% rollback trigger on the rate all local government entities, apart from school districts whose rate is 2.5%, can raise taxes without triggering an automatic public vote. Senator Nelson could not have been clearer, “Our people want real, meaningful property tax relief. That’s what I hear most from my constituents.

Senator Bettencourt recalled when he drove past the first home he lived in with his wife, “I drove past my old home this weekend, it is now worth 3 times what I sold it for 22 years ago.” How can Texans run a business when their property taxes are going up by 15% to 20% yearly? How can Texans plan for the future and raise a family when property taxes have risen by double digits each year? Senate Bill 2’s main goal, which was articulated by Senator Bettencourt, is to, “Give relief not only to those Texans who own homes or operate businesses, but to provide property tax relief for those Texans who have yet to own a home and have yet to start a business.” Average home taxes increased by 15% in Dallas in 2018 and 11% in Houston in 2019.

Senate Bill 2 would have no impact without including school districts, which make up a majority of Texans’ property tax bill. Senator Schwertner underscored the importance of including school districts in Senate Bill 2, “I am proud the Senate did their part to provide reform and relief for property taxes not just for cities, counties, and special purpose districts, but for school taxes too. The voices of Texas taxpayers were heard today!” Senator Bettencourt echoed this sentiment, “There will be no true impact on property tax relief unless school districts are included.”

Democrats tried to bring up examples of how locales would lose tax revenue under SB 2. They, without success, argued that Fort Worth would lose 4 million dollars in Tax Revenue. Senator Hancock quickly responded by noting that, “a 4-million-dollar loss is out of a 1.72-billion-dollar budget.” Senator Hancock also noted that, “Fort Worth’s tax revenue growth rate is under the 3.5%, so the rollback trigger wouldn’t apply to Fort Worth.” Observers have said that Senate Bill 2 is the first major reform in 40 years.

Senator Flores also contributed a successful amendment, floor amendment #1, that protects small, rural locales whose indigent defense expenditures can vary wildly year by year. Floor amendment #1 allows for an increase in tax rates only if a county’s indigent defense expenditures exceed the amount of those expenditures for the preceding year, “Indigent defense costs are especially impactful to small, rural Texas counties,” Senator Flores added.

The Texas Senate Republicans understand that the Texas Senate should prioritize everyday Texans and their businesses that have been feeling the squeeze of rising property taxes. Texas is number 3 in property tax rates across the country, behind only Illinois and New Jersey. Senator Perry commented, “Thank you and I agree with your comments – that is why we have engaged for over 2 years in real property tax reform – this bill is real reform – and the voters will now have a voice once again on how much taxes they pay.

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