Politics

Patrick demands Phelan call House back to Austin to pass Senate’s version of property tax relief

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick kicked off a statewide speaking tour to pressure House Speaker Dade Phelan to enact a property tax relief plan that includes larger homestead exemptions.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, speaking in Houston on June 13, 2023.
Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, speaking in Houston on June 13, 2023.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is stepping up his efforts to force the Senate's version of property tax relief through the Legislature. Patrick came to Houston to kick off a statewide effort to pressure House Speaker Dade Phelan to summon the lower chamber back to Austin.

Patrick said he was tired of Phelan claiming the House was offering a larger property tax cut than the Senate. He said both the Senate and the House plans would enact $17.6 billion in property tax relief.

But Patrick said the House plan spread the relief across both homes and businesses. The Senate plan, by contrast, uses roughly 30% of the $17.6 billion to raise the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, with a $110,000 exemption for homeowners over 65 and those who are disabled.

"The Senate plan will give every one of 5.7 million homeowners $1,200 to $1,400 in a tax cut. That's the math. The House plan gives about $740 per homeowner," Patrick said.

During the regular legislative session, the House passed a version of property tax relief with just such homestead exemptions. But it also included a reduction in appraisal caps, something Patrick said he won't accept because he argues it would ultimately lead to property tax bills increasing.

Speaker Phelan passed his latest version of property tax relief on the first day of the special session. This latest House version left out the reduction in appraisal caps, but it also left out the Senate's increase in homestead exemptions and immediately adjourned the House.

Patrick claimed that he'd spoken with numerous House members since then who were getting complaints from their constituents that the House had refused to provide higher homestead exemptions. He blasted Phelan for allegedly favoring business property owners, including out-of-state business owners, over homeowners.

"So, bottom line," Patrick said, "if the homeowners don't get their $100,000 exemption and their $1,200 to $1,400 tax cut every year for the rest of their lives, there will be no property tax cut for businesses."

Governor Greg Abbott has named property tax relief as one of his top goals for the 88th Texas Legislature. If the current special session does not end with a property tax relief bill on his desk, he’s likely to continue to call special special sessions until one does.