You may remember that one of the larger inter-chamber battles of the legislative session dealt with property tax relief. I was proud to coauthor SB 1 providing Texans with $1.2 billion in property tax relief.
The final plan to which the House agreed raised the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 for school district property taxes. After being approved with over 86% of the vote during the 2015 Constitutional Amendment Election, the first $25,000 dollars of your home are no longer subject to school taxes. While I am pleased the House agreed to some property tax relief, I would have preferred the Senate's plan to index the exemption to the median market home value in Texas. This approach would have ensured that as appraisals rise homeowners would continue to see savings. While this was a good start, you and I both know there is still a lot more work to get done!
That is why Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick appointed me to the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. As a member of this committee, we have been traveling throughout the state holding hearings and receiving feedback on how the property tax process can be improved for Texans. Additionally, the committee is looking for ways to reduce the burden on property owners in Texas.
These hearings have been a huge success. Citizens have packed auditoriums sharing their personal stories and experiences relating to our property tax system. On Wednesday, April 27th the committee is coming to North Texas, and I am personally asking you to come and provide public testimony!
I firmly believe that political power comes from the grassroots!
By going directly to the people, these hearings force politicians to hear how skyrocketing property taxes are affecting the everyday lives of the people they serve. To me, the math is simple: just because home values go up, that doesn’t mean it costs government any more to provide the same services to those same homes. Worse, while appraisal values increase the tax burden on working families, there is no guarantee that family incomes will rise at the same rate to offset this effective tax increase. In fact, according to data from the Texas Comptroller, between 2005 and 2014, property taxes increased 2.5 times faster than the median household income.
The appraisal system in Texas was not designed as a vehicle for local governments to subvert the people with a backdoor means to increase taxes and government spending. Homeowners should not be punished with higher taxes when they are fortunate enough to see an increase in the values of their homes. This money belongs to the people, not government. Unfortunately, that point is often lost on big-government politicians, and failing to reform the process puts government growth on auto-pilot without regard for the will of the people.
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