Lawmakers Seek to Steal From Taxpayers for More Corporate Welfare

March 7, 2023
TFR Staff
88th Legislative Session, Corporate Welfare, Dade Phelan, Dan Patrick, Property Tax

It’s no secret that leadership in the Texas Legislature has been heavily focusing on property tax relief packages in recent weeks. The Texas House and Senate have both filed their proposals, and both seek to provide minimal relief for homeowners.

Leadership in the House has chosen to focus their efforts on lowering the appraisal cap from 10% to 5% while applying it to all property, while the Senate has chosen to put all its efforts into the homestead exemption bucket, seeking to increase the existing homestead exemption threshold of $40,000 to $70,000. Both plans are offering additional compression to school M&O (Maintenance & Operations) taxes, something we consider a superior approach to property tax relief. Still, neither chamber proposes using more than one-third of the current $32.6 billion surplus to do so, which proves problematic for taxpayers hoping to see tangible property tax relief as an outcome of this legislative session.

The Texas House has decided that it should also prioritize the revival of a failed corporate welfare program (the largest in Texas history) that increases the burden on individual taxpayers. It is interesting that while both legislative chambers are attempting to do the bare minimum to help homeowners, they are simultaneously doing backflips to help their cronies who lobby for more corporate welfare. (While the House is the only chamber with legislation, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has voiced support for corporate welfare this session.)

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) chose to prioritize House Bill 5 (authored by State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), who has a dismal career rating of an F on our Fiscal Responsibility Index, in his attempt to revive the now-defunct Chapter 313 tax abatement program (corporate welfare). It has turned into a bipartisan bill, having the support of both Republican and Democrat co-authors, even though both parties’ platforms explicitly oppose corporate welfare schemes. With bills like this, the uni-party in Austin is on full display.

Below are all of the House members who have currently signed on in support of the proposed corporate welfare legislation filed in the Texas House of Representatives:

Current co-author list for HB 5, the House corporate welfare revival legislation

For Texans who have paid close attention to the state Legislature, it has become apparent that lawmakers always cater to those who can afford to spend millions on lobbyists (that will ultimately enrich their campaign accounts). After the legislative session, they will seek re-election after stabbing taxpayers in the back while claiming another “historic year for property tax reform.” Meanwhile, their campaign accounts will be bursting at the seams with corrupt corporate lobby money as a reward for their loyalty to the Austin swamp and efforts on things like a corporate welfare revival.

This decision by leadership in the Texas Legislature should speak volumes to their real intentions toward homeowners. They are banking on the fact that if they cater to corporate lobbyists and fluff up their weak property tax reform efforts to homeowners, they will be re-elected with ease. The question is: Will taxpayers stand for this betrayal, or will they speak out against this corruption?

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