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Will 2017 Be The Year The Texas Legislature Reforms Property Taxes?

Texas now has one of the highest median property tax rates in the nation, and it’s climbing fast.


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If you own a home, you know property taxes are skyrocketing. Texas now has the fifth-highest median property tax rate in the nation. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made reining in that growth one of his top priorities for the next legislative session.

Now Patrick's point man in the effort, Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), has unveiled how he hopes to tackle the problem. The bill (SB 2) would limit the amount by which local governments could increase property taxes to 4 percent per year, down from the current cap of 8 percent.

"There's probably no homeowner in Harris County that wouldn't want to have a 52 percent raise in the last, since 2011 [through] 2015," said Bettencourt, who announced the bill at a press conference at the State Capitol in Austin. "But they didn't get that raise, but yet local government did. So, we need to pull this back and put the taxpayer's ability to pay back in this equation."

Under the measure, voters would need to approve any local tax hike above the new 4 percent cap.

The Texas Legislature has tried and failed to pass property tax reform several times in recent sessions. Bettencourt expects the current measure to be more successful. That's in part due to Patrick's backing, but also due to greater public support. Bettencourt recently wrapped up 11 months' worth of hearings around the state. More than 300 witnesses came forward to testify.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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