As 2022 comes to a close and we ramp up our efforts in preparation for all that 2023 brings, which includes the Texas 88th Legislative Session, we thought it might be prudent to summarize our top five pieces of written content based on your engagement and interest with them over the course of the year.
Honorable Mention: Polling Shows Texans Want Property Tax Relief Over Other Spending
We heard you—now let’s just hope your state lawmakers have heard you. Ever-increasing property tax burdens have become a cancerous polyp on the prosperity of Texans. Very obviously, the “slow the growth” strategy state lawmakers have adopted in past legislative sessions has done little to nothing to relieve taxpayers.
Potentially boding in favor of taxpayers, over the course of the year, a combination of statewide elected officials and state lawmakers have increasingly voiced their concerns with these burdens. Texas Governor Greg Abbott even went as far as to throw his support behind eliminating the largest portion of the property tax related to school Maintenance and Operations (M&O) at the sole gubernatorial debate in September. Couple this potential support with the fact that state lawmakers are facing a historic budget surplus, and you might just have a recipe for tax relief that can actually be felt by taxpayers at the conclusion of the upcoming legislative session.
In April, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick issued his list of interim charges to all Senate committees. These charges are comprised of issues for each committee to study ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
Compared to House Speaker Dade Phelan’s interim charges issued to committees of the Texas House of Representatives, which lacked many major priorities, Patrick’s list was a mixed bag. By comparison, a takeaway for taxpayers is that it potentially sets up a legislative session by which leadership in each legislative chamber has many different priorities when it comes to Texans’ needs.
Notably, Patrick’s charges did include the study of issues relevant to our Texas Prosperity Plan, like taxpayer-funded lobbying and property tax relief/reform. What his list lacked were issues like those addressing vaccine passports or a priority of the major political party in Texas related to prohibiting gender modification on minors.
Since April, Patrick has come out to give additional clarity on issues he is prioritizing ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
In June, we attended the 2022 Republican Party of Texas State Convention as an exhibitor. This event that takes place every two years and draws thousands of Republican activists from across the state into the process of developing the party’s platform (summary of policy positions), among other inter-party functions.
Our participation included advocating for sane fiscal policy in the Lone Star State as well as successfully getting the platform to include the policy positions of our Texas Prosperity Plan.
As a majority in the state Legislature and all statewide elected officials are Republicans, the goal would be that they advocate for their own political party’s platform (of course, including the policies of the Texas Prosperity Plan).
In the midst of local governmental jurisdictions proposing and meeting to set their property tax rates for the following year, it grew increasingly apparent that despite promises from state lawmakers, none of the top five municipalities in Texas (which house a huge majority of Texas’ population) actually planned on adopting the no-new-revenue tax rate, meaning property tax burdens will only increase.
This revelation and the results of the November election only furthered the need for state lawmakers to act in the upcoming legislative session, highlighting the fact that their previous efforts have done little to actually ease taxpayers’ burden.
As a potential preview for the upcoming legislative session, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan broke months of silence on the issue and opined on what he believes the projected budget surplus should be used for. Unfortunately for Texas property taxpayers hoping to get tangible relief, it does not initially appear that Phelan believes it is a priority compared to increased government spending on things like infrastructure.
Notably, much of the Republican leadership in that same legislative chamber has been relatively quiet about how much, if any, of the projected budget surplus should be used to provide property tax relief.
It is no surprise that this 2022 article saw the most engagement. The growing fervor from Texas taxpayers over their property tax burdens continues to prove that, in fact, efforts by state lawmakers to curb the growth of property taxes have not actually made those burdens decrease, but rather grow at a slower rate. For the ninth largest economy in the world, who boasts a burgeoning business climate, this is unacceptable and alarming.
This fact is likely what has prompted the increase in related legislation that has been pre-filed ahead of the upcoming legislative session. For taxpayers, we will have to wait and see if lawmakers will continue the failed strategy of slowing the property tax burden growth or if they actually have the gumption to address the issue head-on.
What Is Next?
The next legislative session is set to begin in January of 2023. Your elected officials need to hear from you. Concerned taxpayers may contact their state lawmakers.
How can you help? Go read the Texas Prosperity Plan for yourself and voice your support for banning taxpayer-funded lobbying, eliminating the property tax, and freezing state spending by signing up to support the TPP. Sign up for The Fiscal Note to stay up to date on all fiscal issues that affect Texans, especially our broken property tax system. We CAN put Texas on a path to fiscal sanity and prosperity if we amplify our voices loudly enough.