Gov. Abbott expected to counter Patrick on property tax proposals

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott is set to deliver remarks Friday afternoon at a post-session fireside chat with a conservative think tank, following a public clash this week with the lieutenant governor over differing property tax proposals.

On Tuesday the Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted Patrick for a similar event, where he gave a boisterous speech slamming House Speaker Dade Phelan and promising to “not back down” from the Senate’s plan for property tax relief.

The Texas Legislature, which finished its regular session Monday, already set aside $17.6 billion from the state’s budget to give Texans property tax relief. However, ideological differences between the two chambers about how to deliver that stalled lawmakers Monday from adjourning. They inevitably gaveled out sine die, or indefinitely, without a deal.

Hours later, Abbott called them back for a first special session with demands for lawmakers to strike a deal on property tax relief by means of compression, as well as a call for action on border security legislation.

Tax rate compression

The Texas House passed legislation Tuesday to spend $12.3 billion on “compression.” That simply means the state would buy down school district property tax rates and foot the bill for the taxpayer. Combined with the approved state budget, the House plan would dedicate $17.6 billion to lower local tax rates by another sixteen cents.

Currently, school tax rates for maintenance and operations are $0.91 per every $100 of a home’s valuation. House Bill 1 of the first special session would drop that to $0.64 next year.

Homestead exemption increase

The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday to offer some tax compression in addition to raising the homestead exemption to $100,000. The homestead exemption refers to the amount of your home’s value you can deduct from the taxable value. For example, the current homestead exemption is $40,000, so an owner of a $300,000 home pays taxes on only $260,000.

The Senate argues this plan would prioritize homeowners over business property. The upper chamber’s property tax guru, Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston, anticipates it would save the average homeowner more than $2,500 over two years.

While Patrick and Phelan are known to have a fractured relationship, public disagreement between Abbott and Patrick is rare.

Of his relationship with Phelan, the lieutenant governor said Tuesday that the two legislative leaders hardly talk.

“I haven’t talked to him in two years, except to say hi,” Patrick said.

Tensions between Texas’ top two Republicans came to a surface this week, with Patrick going on a media blitz making remarks against one another’s plans on social media and talk radio. Abbott’s social media comments were less pointed directly at Patrick, but he did boast about his compression plan over other proposals.

Phelan’s move to adjourn the House sine die Tuesday for the special session left Patrick with two options — pass the House’s versions of the bills or pass nothing, since House members cannot meet for the rest of the special session after adjourning.

This is a developing story, check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will have a full report on KXAN at 5 p.m. Ryan Chandler contributed to this report.

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