With the 88th Legislative Session set to gavel in just a few short weeks from now, lawmakers are continuing to get pressure from Texas taxpayers on the need to prioritize actual property tax relief.
Recently, Defend Texas Liberty PAC released polling conducted at the end of November of likely 2024 Republican primary voters from across the state, shedding light on issues they want to see prioritized by the Texas Legislature this session. To no surprise, property tax relief is a huge concern.
Property Tax Relief Versus Infrastructure Spending
One of the polling questions was worded as follows:
“The Texas Comptroller is expecting that the Texas Legislature will have a surplus of over $30 billion. Do you think this surplus should be used to lower property taxes, or maintenance and construction of new infrastructure?”
Of those who responded, only 29% believe the surplus funding should be used for infrastructure, while 58% believe the surplus funds should be used for property tax reduction.
This polling was conducted over a week after Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan indicated his plans for the budget surplus did not include property tax relief as much as the need to use it for infrastructure spending, seemingly contrary to what a majority of Texans want.
Similarly, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick played down the use of a majority of the projected surplus for such things as property tax relief last week when he previewed his legislative priorities after the Legislative Budget Board set the spending limit for the next biennium. Patrick cited concerns about busting the spending limit to do so. Notably, Patrick had previously indicated he supported using at least half of the surplus after Texas Governor Greg Abbott endorsed the idea of using the same amount to eliminate the school Maintenance and Operations (M&O) portion of the property tax at the sole gubernatorial debate in September.
Another polling question related to property tax relief yielded similar results:
“Do you believe Texas lawmakers should use state funds to give teachers a $10,000 raise or lower property taxes?”
Of those who responded, only 33% would support using those funds for a $10,000 raise for teachers, while 55% would support using them for property tax reduction.
It is obvious that lawmakers are feeling the pressure to act beyond measures enacted in previous legislative sessions, which did little to nothing to actually address the growing tax burden other than slowing its growth.
Ahead of the upcoming legislative session, several pieces of legislation have already been pre-filed in an attempt to address the growing property tax burdens.
Republicans maintain strong majorities in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. They have controlled every statewide elected office and the state Legislature for over two decades, all while simultaneously promising to address the issue.
Their own political party platform explicitly calls for the elimination of the property tax. Proposition 2 in the 2022 Republican primary election asked if “Texas should eliminate all property taxes within ten (10) years without implementing a state income tax.” More than three-quarters of Republican primary voters overwhelmingly supported such a proposition.
Of course, eliminating the property tax is one of the three policies included in the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) Texas Prosperity Plan. TFR believes that the levying of a property tax is immoral and unsustainable for a free society and that there is a better way to fund local governments and our schools without having to create any new taxes.
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 future prosperity if we amplify our voices loudly enough.