By Senator Borris Miles
The 86th Legislative Session has come to an end, and one of the most significant issues discussed was property tax reform.
The Governor, Lt. Governor and Texas Speaker joined together, and they made it very clear, they were going to pass property tax reform. For the past few years, constituents from across the state voiced their concern about the skyrocketing property taxes. This issue had come before the Texas Legislature several times but failed. The problem is that our state is growing, the cost to provide services is not going down, and Republican leaders have been cutting services so much that local municipalities, counties, school districts, and other government entities have been picking up the tab to ensure the public is served. To keep up with the costs, some local government entities had to increase tax rates to fund public services.
Republicans began filing legislation targeting property taxes reform to limit local jurisdictions ability to collect taxes and giving property owners a tax break. Multiple proposals were on the table, including raising the sales tax to the highest in the US. Republicans were willing to increase a regressive tax, just to give the rich of the rich a tax break.
After much pushback, Republicans eventually settled on Senate Bill 2, which combined with House Bill 3, the public education finance bill would provide over $5 billion in statewide property tax relief. The new law lowers the property tax rollback rate to 3.5% for cities and counties, and any increase to the rollback rate would require voter approval. Your actual property tax bill will not go down significantly, and your local governments will have a more difficult time providing services. In addition, this “relief” Republicans are promising is just a house of cards waiting to fall. If the price for the oil drops, that relief will dissipate very quickly.
Local governments are the backbone of a community. Republicans need to let local jurisdictions decide what is best for their community. If the community has a problem with their local leaders, they can voice that in the election booth. Let us keep local governments local.
Photo credit: keranews.org