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Texas House and Senate reach deal on $18 billion property tax cut package

The agreement, which could pass the Legislature by the end of the week, includes a $100,000 homestead exemption and a pilot project to limit appraisal growth to 20% on non-homesteaded properties worth $5 million or less.



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State lawmakers have reached agreement on an $18 billion deal to cut property taxes, a record for Texas. The package could pass the Legislature by the end of the week.

Taken from one viewpoint, the House and Senate took six months and three sessions of the Legislature to craft the agreement. But from another, it’s been a lot longer — longer, in fact, than the legislative careers of two of the proponents.

“Lieutenant Governor (Dan) Patrick kindly referred to our bus trip 20 years ago, when we took several hundred Houstonians up to the Legislature to start the process,” said State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), one of the architects of the deal.

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More than two-thirds of the $18 billion in relief would go towards permanently reducing the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties. The deal includes a major demand of the Senate: permanently raising the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.

"It's going to be an average $1,373 (in annual savings) for all 5.72 million homeowners and $1,450 or more for over 65s," said Bettencourt, "It's stunning, off-the-charts, eye-popping savings."

Bettencourt said the homestead exemption would not affect state funding for public schools. "There's $642 million worth of debt relief for school districts," he said.

MORE: Rice political scientist Mark Jones discusses the deal on Houston Matters


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The package will also include several items the House had sought, among them a so-called circuit breaker that would limit the growth of tax bills for non-homesteaded properties, both residential and commercial, to no more than 20 percent. Separate legislation would also provide savings on the franchise tax for small businesses.

"Reducing property taxes, providing relief to small business owners, and reforming our appraisal system will ensure economic growth and prosperity, and this agreement is a significant victory for all Texans," said House Speaker Dade Phelan in a statement announcing the deal.

The package also includes a provision that will increase voters' input on local property tax appraisal boards. "We've got a novel solution, first time ever, of electing three citizens countywide in May 2024 for all counties that have populations of 75,000 or greater," Bettencourt said.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released his own statement thanking all 31 senators for their contributions and singling out Bettencourt and Phelan for praise.

"Speaker Phelan and I worked diligently over the last week on the final bill," Patrick said. "It made the difference. It may have taken overtime, but the process has produced a great bill for homeowners and businesses."

Bettencourt has already filed the two Senate bills that include all the relevant provisions, Senate Bills 2 and 3. The House is crafting a joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment. Voters will need to approve the amendment in November for the tax cuts to become law.

"The good news is the tax bills are going to go out like this was passed," Bettencourt said. "So, this initial whopping $100,000 homestead exemption is going to be good for this year, and the tax rate reduction is going to be good for this year, and folks will see it on their bill as they go to vote on November 7."

What the package does not provide is direct relief for renters, something Democrats had sought.

Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement saying he looks forward to signing the legislation when it reaches his desk.

"I promised during my campaign that the state would return to property taxpayers at least half of the largest budget surplus we've ever had," Abbott said. "Today's agreement between the House and the Senate is a step toward delivering on that promise."

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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