On Thursday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan addressed the Transportation Advocacy Group in Houston, speaking on transportation and infrastructure issues, among other items.
In the course of his address, he indicated he has other plans for the projected nearly $27 billion surplus. Those plans did not include providing property tax relief for Texas taxpayers, something requested by a growing number of lawmakers and taxpayers alike.
“I’ve got elected officials who haven’t taken the oath of office saying we need to spend all the revenue on property tax relief. Let me just remind you, none of this money came from property taxes. It all came from sales tax.”
Notably, Republican leadership in the Texas House of Representatives has been generally quiet compared to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who have both called for varying amounts of the surplus to go toward property tax relief in significant ways. Abbott even went as far as to promote using more than half of it for that purpose at the sole gubernatorial debate in September.
As a part of our Texas Prosperity Plan, we support using all—or as much as realistically possible—to “buy down” the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) portion of the property tax, providing real tax relief for Texas taxpayers. We also suggest that it could simultaneously put Texas on a path to the elimination of the tax if both state and local governments cut spending.
Nearly two weeks ago, Republican State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (Arlington) announced his candidacy for speaker of the House, challenging Phelan as lawmakers are set to begin the 88th Legislative Session in January of 2023.
Tinderholt, an A+ career rated Taxpayer Champion on our Fiscal Responsibility Index issued a statement in response to Phelan’s comments:
“It is honestly shocking to see Speaker Phelan speak so strongly against property tax relief and even criticize incoming conservative lawmakers for supporting bold property tax relief. Texans deserve serious and substantial tax relief, and the lawmakers who are fighting for their constituents should be celebrated, not condemned.”
“The Texas Republican platform calls for us to move away from the broken property tax system and shift to sales taxes. This year provides a historic opportunity to do just that, and yet our current speaker is criticizing incoming freshman for supporting Republican policy. So far, the only things that Republican legislators have been told they can’t do is vote to ban Democrat chairs and support the largest property tax relief plan in Texas history. This isn’t leadership, and it’s why I’m running for speaker.”
The practice of awarding committee chairmanships to the minority party was also one of the reasons Tinderholt cited as motivation to run for speaker.
Lawmakers began prefiling legislation for the upcoming legislative session on Monday. Legislation seeking to reform and affect how property taxes are levied, if at all, was filed in droves, signaling the renewed pressure lawmakers are feeling from taxpayers who find themselves burdened with near record-high inflation, increased costs of living, and increased property taxes.
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