Thursday, January 10, 2019

#TXLEGE: An all sorts of interesting panel about property taxes

"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

"If we don't fix it this session, we're in big trouble."

So said Drew Springer at this afternoon's TPPF policy orientation panel on property taxes.

The panel featured a number of interesting nuggets; among them:

  • Senator Paul Bettencourt on Speaker Bonnen's willingness to engage the issue in good faith: "Quite a departure from the last speaker."
  • Bettencourt -- As property values go up, tax rates have to go down.
  • Bettencourt -- "The state has to stop Robin Hood."
  • Bettencourt plugged uniform election dates.
  • Tarrant County Judge Glenn Whitley gave a lot of the usual talking points about "state mandated services" such as a court system and jails...but, if courts and jails were the only thing on which counties were spending their money, there wouldn't be a problem.
  • To his credit, Whitley also mentioned the ENORMOUS sums Texas gives away as tax exemptions; we've previously discussed how this could be an area of widespread cross-partisan consensus.
  • Springer calls for using new revenue from various excise type taxes to buy down property taxes.
  • Fun local fact: Apparently, Travis county has had the slowest county tax growth of any major urban county in the state!!!
That last one is the hugest of them all.  Last session, Drew Springer was one of the primary obstacles to property tax reform.  Honestly, it's noteworthy that Drew Springer is constructively engaging on this issue in the first place.

We know a few people on Facebook were mad about an obscure thing that happened in yesterday's rules debate, but today we found ourselves wondering who this guy was and what he had done with the Drew Springer from last session.

But we'll take it.

Bottom Line: It's too soon to tell the form in which it will take shape, but there will be tangible progress on this issue this session....

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