Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick challenges Gov. Abbott to debate over property tax reform

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Lt Gov. challenges Gov. Abbott to debate on property tax reform
Leaders in the Texas House and Senate promised property tax relief, but it has not happened yet.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Republican leaders in the Texas House and Senate promised property tax relief, but it has not happened yet.

The Texas House and Senate are at, what looks like, a stalemate over how to lower taxes. And Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick challenged Gov. Greg Abbott to a debate about it.

He said during an early afternoon press conference that he was not there to argue with the governor or speaker of the House, both of whom back a plan that differs from the Senate. But he laid out why the Senate's proposal is better and offered to debate Gov. Abbott.

"I am not arguing with the governor," he said. "We'll go on and fight another day, and we'll be aligned more likely than we're not. The same way with the House. But we're not going to back up on this, and if the governor disagrees, then I am open next Monday and Tuesday to a Lincoln-Douglas debate - 45 minutes ought to get it done."

When asked at an afternoon bill-signing about the challenge, Abbott did not directly answer a reporter's question but said he would call another special session if needed.

SEE ALSO: Here's how two Texas constitutional amendments could lower some property taxes

"When it comes to property taxes, what really needs to be done is to focus on reaching an agreement between the House and Senate," Abbott said. "And the only thing we're going to focus on this session and successive sessions is to pass property taxes. The good news is we have already agreed to the amount, which is historic."

So what are the plans exactly?

The House plan would lower property tax rates for school districts across the state. That would save every property owner money through what's called compression.

The Senate plan takes a less aggressive approach to compression but increases the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000. Sen. Paul Bettencourt authored the legislation.

"The Senate's plan, the Texas two-step, gives a lot more savings to the average homeowner, and that's 5.72 million homeowners across the state," Bettencourt told ABC13.

As for Republican Speaker Dade Phelan, his office sent a statement to ABC13, which read:

"The Texas Senate is the only chamber that has not passed property tax reform and border security legislation in a way that is germane to Gov. Abbott's special session call. The House has passed the largest property tax cut in state history three times this year. In the special session, the House came to work, passed its bills with bipartisan support, and adjourned -- the Senate is keeping Texans waiting. We encourage the Senate to follow the House's lead so that Texans can have the property tax relief and the secure border they deserve."

State Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, supports the Senate's plan. She said Texans deserve property tax relief.

"As a Democrat, we don't control any part of any branch of government in this state. Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the governor's office, and it's on them if we don't bring something back home to property, to our taxpayers in the form of a property tax relief bill," she said.

The Senate will stay in session until Monday, and they are hoping the House comes back after having passed its version last week and adjourning.

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