News88th TXLege

Chairman Bonnen Kills Path to Property Tax Elimination

July 14, 2023
Andrew McVeigh
88th Legislative Session, Brian Harrison, Dade Phelan, Greg Bonnen, Property Tax, State Budget

On Thursday, after months of stalemate, the Texas House finally took up for consideration a property tax plan intended to provide real relief to Texas taxpayers. 

The House convened in the early afternoon to consider the proposed plan. Senate Bill 2, the main bill in the property tax relief package, was the center of debate, as more than a dozen amendments were offered. 

In a valiant effort to provide Texans with even greater property tax relief, State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) filed an amendment to SB 2 that would have put the State of Texas on a path to eliminating the school Maintenance & Operation (M&O) property tax. The amendment would have done this by dedicating surplus state tax dollars to compressing the M&O tax rate.

Rep. Harrison was joined in his effort by State Reps. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), Carrie Isaac (R-Wimberley), Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth), and Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), all of whom co-authored the amendment. 

Despite the commonsense nature of the amendment, State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood)—chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the state budget and spending—was quick to oppose Rep. Harrison, immediately calling a point of order on the proposed amendment. Bonnen claimed that the amendment was not germane to the bill. Just a few moments later, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) sustained the point of order, killing the amendment and eradicating any hope that Texans might see a path to eliminating property taxes this legislative cycle.

As chair of the Appropriations Committee, Bonnen holds the majority of the responsibility for growing state spending by 42% in a single year! He also holds an abysmal record on TFR’s report card, scoring a 53 (failing grade) on the Fiscal Responsibility Index in the 88th Legislative Session.

This raises questions:

How is providing more property tax relief not appropriate for a bill that is intended to provide property tax relief?

Why would Bonnen kill such a commonsense amendment?

Regardless, the second called special session ended with the Legislature passing some real, albeit short-term, property tax relief. However, without Harrison’s amendment, we are not much closer to property tax elimination than we were before.

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