On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, May 7, 2022 as a special election day for two proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution that resulted from the saga surrounding the issue of property tax relief in the recent special legislative sessions that took place last year.
Notably, these proposed constitutional amendments are the result of broken-down negotiations between both chambers of the state legislature. They ultimately amount to paltry trinkets bestowed upon Texas property taxpayers instead of the truly needed property tax relief to address the ever-increasing tax burden.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for the reduction of the amount of a limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for general elementary and secondary public school purposes on the residence homestead of a person who is elderly or disabled to reflect any statutory reduction from the preceding tax year in the maximum compressed rate of the maintenance and operations taxes imposed for those purposes of the homestead.
This proposition spawns from the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2, passed during the second-called special legislative session of the 87th Legislature in August of last year.
Ultimately, if passed by Texas voters, this amendment would increase the property tax exemptions for those who are elderly or disabled. Currently, exemptions exist for these specific classes of Texans but due to an oversight in the passage and implementation of legislation passed in 2019 which provided compression to offset property tax value increases, the elderly and disabled did not actually see that relief.
Opponents of this legislation cite the need to address the growing burden of property taxes on Texans in a much larger way, instead of addressing the issue on the edges, making largely nominal alterations.
The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,0000.
This proposition comes from the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 during the third-called special session of the 87th Legislature in October of last year. The context is important here as this legislation was the last-minute result of broken-down negotiations between both chambers of the Texas Legislature in the final days of the special legislative session. In a matter of mere minutes, this legislation was filed, considered, and passed by the Texas Senate. Similarly, the Texas House of Representatives ushered it through the process in hours and passed the legislation, all within the same day.
If passed, this amendment would increase the statewide homestead exemption to $40,000 from the current $25,000 threshold. In 2015, the exemption was raised to $25,000 from $15,000, but Texas property taxpayers saw virtually no actual property tax relief from that effort, leaving many to speculate similar results will be had from this attempt.
The Growing Burden
As we have reported several times, the burden of property tax on Texas taxpayers only continues to grow, despite lawmakers making promises to address it and reports of relief to the contrary.
Republicans have maintained control of the Texas Legislature and every statewide office for almost two decades, and yet the property tax burden has grown exponentially. The Tax Foundation reported in 2021 that Texas had the 6th most burdensome property tax in the United States. Wallethub reported just a year earlier that Texas ranked 7th in the nation.
Viable plans exist to move Texas off of the immoral practice of collecting property taxes to fund government services. The question that remains however is whether the political will exists to actually follow through and move beyond paying lip service to the issue?