With that problem in mind, Gov. Gregg Abbott has offered a new proposal that will limit the amount that local officials can raise property taxes. The idea will be a major issue in the next session of the state legislature due to convene next year. The proposal is more extensive than the measure that was almost approved during last year's legislative session.
Abbott's proposal would place a cap of a 2.5 percent increase for taxes levied by countries, school districts, cities, and special districts. Any increase above that percentage would have to be put to the voters, with a two-thirds majority needed for approval.
Understandably, a number of local officials have denounced the proposal, suggesting that it would inhibit their ability to raise money for public safety, infrastructure construction, and other services. Abbott, Lt. Gov, Dan Patrick, and other Republicans countered that they are responding to the complaints of home and business owners who feel crushed by the ever-increasing tax burden that they now face.
Supporters of the measure point out that the new federal tax law, which caps deductions for property taxes at $10,000, makes reform all the more urgent.
Current law requires voters to petition for a state election if property taxes are raised by more than 8 percent. A measure to lower that amount failed in the last session of the legislature when the state House enacted a measure making the threshold 6 percent and the state Senate passed a bill that made the threshold 4 percent. The roll-back election would have been automatic with a simple majority required to approve a tax increase.