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Abbott calls second special legislative session to address property taxes

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(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a second special legislative session, bringing the House back to Austin to work with the Senate to pass property tax relief.

The Senate has been in session since the first special legislative session was called; the House passed a property tax relief bill and went into recess after one day. Despite calls for the House to return to Austin by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the House remained in recess for 29 of the 30-day first special legislative session.

Abbott issued a proclamation Tuesday announcing a second special legislative session to begin today to specifically address eliminating one type of property tax and to provide “lasting property tax rates.”

“We achieved a great deal during the 88th Legislative Session that I have signed into law, including laws to provide more than $5.1 billion for border security, hold rogue district attorneys accountable, and add $1.4 billion to make schools safer, but the job is not done,” the governor said.

“I am bringing the Texas Legislature back for Special Session #2 to provide lasting property tax cuts for Texans. During the five-month regular session, the Texas House and Texas Senate both agreed on cutting school district property tax rates, while the House wanted to add appraisal caps and the Senate advocated for increased homestead exemptions.

“The Special Session #1 agenda was limited to the only solution that both chambers agreed on – school property tax rate cuts. After yet another month without the House and Senate sending a bill to my desk to cut property taxes, I am once again putting the agreed upon school district property tax rate cuts on the special session agenda.”

The two legislative items on the special session call include:

Eliminating a property tax in Texas: Legislation to put Texas on a pathway to eliminate school district maintenance and operations property taxes.

Lasting property tax rate cuts: Legislation to cut property tax rates solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate in order to provide lasting property-tax relief for Texas taxpayers.

In response, Lt. Gov. Patrick issued a statement saying the Senate wasn’t budging on its position to include a homestead exemption as part of tax relief, setting the second special session up for failure.

In a statement, he said, “Over the last week, there have been many discussions between the Texas Senate and House to find a deal on the largest property tax cut in Texas history. In today’s statement, the Governor said that during the regular session, the House and Senate both agreed on cutting school district property tax rates. He is correct. However, he did not mention that during the regular session, both the House and Senate also unanimously voted for a $100,000 homestead exemption.

“The Senate will continue to support cutting the tax rate through compression. We will insist upon a homestead exemption, giving homeowners a $1,250 to $1,450 annual tax cut as opposed to receiving only $740 without a homestead exemption. We will pass the same bill that we passed to the House last week that cuts school property taxes for the average homeowner by nearly 43%, almost double the tax cut one would receive with only compression.”

Patrick reiterated his view that eliminating school property taxes would require significant increase in the state’s sales tax, which he does not support.

Speaker Dade Phelan’s office didn’t release or provide a statement in response to Abbott’s call. However, the House is expected to pass a bill in accordance with Abbott’s plan, as it did during the first special session.

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