Updated 8:14 pm, Saturday, August 12, 2017
AUSTIN – The Texas House voted 98-43 for a bill addressing Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priority of curbing local officials’ authority over property tax increases Saturday.
The bill’s author said it would give taxpayers some protection but not “one ounce” of relief.
People whose local property tax bills are putting a strain on their budgets are crying out for help, say Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and some other champions of the proposal to institute automatic rollback elections when property tax revenues rise above a certain level.
But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said he can promise only that the proposal would give people the protection of having more say over proposed tax increases.
“It does not provide one ounce of property tax relief. It’s not intended to, and anyone who suggests that it is giving you bad information,” Bonnen said as he outlined the bill for the House.
Whether the bill makes it through both chambers may determine whether Abbott considers this special session a success, judging by his comments before the session began.
“I would say this is the No. 1 issue that we must address,” Abbott said of property taxes on the eve of the session, during a forum at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. “It’s tough for a parent to pick among multiple children, especially if you have 19 children, but I would say of the 19 items we have on the agenda, addressing property taxes … is the most important issue.”
The session, which can last up to 30 days, began July 18 with an agenda set by Abbott including a must-pass bill to keep state agencies open and 19 other topics, many aimed at reining in local officials’ power over spending, taxes and regulations.