Bill to cap property tax hikes passes state senate
Municipalities may soon have less leeway when it comes to determining how much they can raise property taxes without the input of the people who would end up paying them.
The Texas Senate passed despite partisan opposition and a threat by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to take steps to stop attempts at blocking the vote.
“I respect our Senate rules, but I do not intend to let a procedural motion stop the Senate from passing this important bill,” Patrick said in a statement. “The public doesn’t care about our procedural rules. They want tax relief and they deserve it. Time is running out on our session.”
Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who authored the legislation, said: “It’s been 38 years since the rollback rate has been dropped and today’s the day.”
Senate Bill 2 — also known as the 2019 Property Tax Reform and Relief Act — was passed by the Senate on Monday, April 15, following more than 100 people testifying on the bill while it was being heard in committee. At the time, Bettencourt said: “The testimony was clear as ordinary Texans turned out from across the state to testify for property tax reform and relief.
“In fact, our major amendment, allowing Texans to opt-in to vote for a lower ‘rollback rate,’ now known as the ‘voter approved rate,’ was requested by many from rural and smaller towns across Texas that testified. In fact, no private citizen testified against SB2, only those who were elected officials or taxpayer funded lobbyists spoke against.”
According to a news release from Bettencourt, SB 2 will establish a rollback rate for cities, counties and special districts of 3.5%. School districts will have a 2.5% rollback rate. A taxing jurisdiction would be required to get voter approval in an automatic November election to go over this rollback rate.
The current roll back rate stands at 8% and has remained unchanged since 1981.
An amendment by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) seeking to remove schools from the bill was defeated.
“School property tax relief must be part of any reform,” Bettencourt said.
The bill has been sent to the State House of Representatives for consideration. Vote on House Bill 2, which is identical to the Senate version, has been postponed for consideration until April 24.