Texas special session could end without deal on property tax relief

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Thursday, June 1, 2023
No end in sight for property tax relief coming from Austin
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Lawmakers in Austin were put in a special session to save homeowners' property tax money, but a political fight is prolonging the issue.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Lawmakers in Austin were put in a special session to save homeowners' property tax money, but a political fight is prolonging the issue, costing taxpayers more money.

Each special session day costs thousands of dollars. It's a bill that appears will keep adding up.

Gov. Greg Abbott said until a property tax relief bill comes to his desk, he'll keep calling special sessions. Ultimately, experts believe a compromise will be made, but right now, the two sides are far apart.

In Austin, both the Senate and House agree property tax relief should go to homeowners. But the two sides can't agree on how to do it.

"I can't debate bad math," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said. "They never brought us any numbers in the entire time of the session."

To figure it out, a special session was called this week. But it appears there won't be any debate. After passing its property tax relief bill Tuesday, House members left Austin. It was different in the Senate. They agreed to come back Friday.

But without a compromise, it appears a second special session will be needed to figure out property taxes.

"I think it's more disruptive, and it's more of a reflection of a lack of competence because for Republicans, one of the top priorities this legislative session was, if not the top priority, was property tax relief," Rice University political science professor Mark Jones explained.

The issue is over a homestead exemption. The Senate wants to increase the amount homeowners receive.

The House wants to cut tax rates for both homeowners and business owners. That's the plan Abbott supports.

However, Patrick said the Senate's plan saves homeowners $700 more per year.

"If Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy, a Democrat and a Republican, can come to an agreement to lift the debt ceiling in Washington, certainly three Republicans in the state of Texas should be able to come to an agreement about property tax relief," Jones said.

So far, though, there doesn't appear to be any agreement. Although Patrick is hopeful.

"I believe in my heart the governor will support homestead exemptions, and I believe that the House will because they already voted unanimously for exemptions," Patrick said.

After adjourning, Patrick encouraged the House to come back to Austin. It doesn't appear they will after the House speaker posted on social media they were done with this special session.

However, if the Senate gavels out later this week, House members could be back anyways because the governor is expected to call a second special session.

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