Gov. Greg Abbott addresses state officials at the State of the State address in the House Chambers at the State Capitol on Feb. 5, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune
The Texas Legislature’s 86th regular session was marked by school finance reforms and easing the pressure of some of the nation’s highest local property taxes.
The state’s top three leaders — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced that “meat and potatoes” work at the beginning of the session in January, and marked their success at the end of the session in May. It sounds simple, but it wasn’t easy. Here are some columns from this year on the work of the Texas Legislature:
The state’s top leaders have been saying for weeks that they are in sync, and here’s the surprise: Their initial proposals look like they are actually in sync.
Texas leaders are promising property tax relief during this year’s legislative session. It’s unlikely that will lower your taxes, but it might slow future increases.
In a new report, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar says the state should cover 40 percent of the cost of public education — and should cover the costs of inflation, too.
A Texas Senate committee is moving rapidly to require voter approval for local property tax increases over 2.5 percent. But some want to see the Legislature’s school finance bill before they vote on property taxes.
More property tax bills are getting filed by Texas legislators — several of which would require approval from voters. Among other things, that could shift any blame for new taxes away from lawmakers themselves.
Lawmakers have proposed swapping higher sales taxes for lower property taxes — but would leave the final decision to voters. They don’t have to do that, but it could move the blame from them — to the rest of us.
The end of the legislative session — deal-making time — is looming, and the priorities set out by the state’s top leaders from January remain undone. In fact, those centerpiece school finance and property tax measures aren’t even teed up for the final negotiations.
Legislation swapping higher sales taxes for lower property taxes flopped this week, and for lawmakers, it flopped in the best way possible: They never had to cast a vote.
The marked difference between the 86th Legislature and its predecessors followed an election year that changed politicians’ minds about who deserved their attention. The most conservative activists had a mediocre year, but last year’s push by education-centered voters was evident in the results.
A new state law limits local government’s ability to raise property taxes without voter approval — but not yet. And some are rushing to get one last big increase.