In a recent interview with Spectrum News 1, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick discussed a myriad of topics ahead of the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, including his thoughts on the prospects for property tax relief.
The takeaway? He seemingly supports more of the same, which has proven to be a losing strategy for Texas taxpayers.
Using Budget Surplus
When asked about using half of the expected budget surplus to provide property tax relief, something Governor Abbott indicated he supported in August to provide the “largest property tax cut ever in the history of Texas,” Patrick attempted to say he had the same position as the governor while also supporting using less of the surplus than the governor himself estimated.
“So, it depends on what you want to call as half. So, I don’t want to debate with the governor at all. I think we are on the same page, because the way that we set the budget, again, population inflation based on the economic forecasting, we can increase our budget about 12.33 percent. Now that’s a two-year budget, so that’s 6 percent a year. I actually think inflation is higher than that, but 6 percent a year, so that would be about 12 and a half billion, so we could take half of that, 6 billion easily. … If the number is all of the 27 [billion], as I laid out at my press conference, we can only spend 12 and a half percent, I mean 12 and a half billion of the 27 [billion]. But we can do other constitutional amendments if the members want, and let the people vote.”
On its face, this is not necessarily surprising as Patrick held a press conference in late November of 2022, almost immediately after the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) set the spending cap for the upcoming biennial budget, where he parroted a similar response. At that time, he also indicated he supported increasing the homestead exemption (yet again) and cutting taxes for businesses specifically by expanding the personal property tax exemption.
In September, at the lone gubernatorial debate, Abbott indicated he supported eliminating the school portion of the property tax, something Patrick has thus far not commented on.
Needless to say, it is concerning that the governor and lieutenant governor seem to be moving in different directions on the issue, especially since leadership in the Texas House of Representatives has been generally quiet on using the budget surplus ahead of the 88th Legislative Session, which is set to begin in just under a week.
Let Us Not Forget About the Texas House of Representatives
Not to be forgotten, the lower legislative chamber also seems to have differing priorities.
In November, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) went out of his way to indicate that his plans for the budget surplus did not include property tax relief. Within the House itself, however, several lawmakers have already pre-filed legislation to address the increasing property tax burdens in varying ways. The prospects for this legislation, however, have yet to be seen.
What Is Next?
Your elected officials need to hear from you.
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.