Conservatives Call For a 'Hard Cap' on All Property Tax Hikes

There’s been a lot of talk in the early days of the 2019 session of the Legislature about reducing property taxes, but conservative groups say the only real solution is a hard cap on how much all taxing districts can increase taxes without the approval of the taxpayers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

“What I would like to see happen to see the Legislature reduce the ‘rollback’ tax rate from its current 8% level to something much more reasonable, like 2 1/2%, said James Quintero, an analyst with the conservative leading Texas Public Policy Foundation.

That would mean that any proposal that raises property taxes by more than an average 2 1/2% per year, by any taxing district, would have to first face a vote of the taxpayers who are included in that taxing district, even if the tax increase is due to property tax appraisal increases.

That proposal will be fought by city and county governments, who say it unfairly ties their hands and strips them of their ability to take steps to prepare for current and future population growth.  They say the failure of the Legislature to appropriate enough money for education is at the heart of the property tax crisis.

But Quintero says a ‘hard cap,’ which is expected to be supported by Gov. Abbott in his coming State of the State Speech, is the best solution.

“We are going to be working very hard to get property tax reform done,” he said.  “That property tax trigger is just one element in a much larger push, but it is just one ingredient in an overall effort.”

Several bills have been introduced in an attempt to get property taxes reduced.  One would limit the allowable increase in property appraisals from the current 10% annually to 5%.  Another would make members of appraisal district boards elected, so they would be more accountable to the people.  Currently they are appointed by the very elected councils and school boards which have a vested interest in seeing property values, and hence property taxes, rise.

Several bills would call for major increases in state aid to education, on the argument that this is the best way to stop local property tax increases.

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