Property taxes are a Texas-sized problem
For the last two decades, employers and entrepreneurs have fled California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and other high-tax states to seek the American dream in Texas. And we’re happy to welcome them and the career opportunities they create.
But one challenge to the Texas economy seriously risks our growth and threatens to put the Lone Star State into the same category as these other states — rapidly escalating property taxes.
At our 2018 Republican Party of Texas convention, thousands of delegates from across the state adopted a legislative priority calling for relief from these skyrocketing taxes. Our Republican legislators have done a tremendous job on legislation such as Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, which seek to put a 2.5 percent cap on the property tax rate. House Bill 3, in addition to proposing sweeping school finance reform, will provide not just relief from future taxes, but a tax cut right now for Texas families. These are meaningful and important steps toward ensuring Texans aren’t taxed out of their homes, and important steps toward replacing financing of the school maintenance and operations costs with a state consumption tax instead of property tax.
Moving away from property taxes towards a consumption tax is a realistic way to provide meaningful relief for hard working taxpayers while enabling the state to pay a higher share of public education at the same time. Republican legislators have already begun to move the state in this positive direction. The important thing is that — when this legislative session ends — Texans see real action to both reduce property taxes and limit the rate of growth in the future.
Meanwhile, the Democrats and various school administrator lobby groups are trying to pull a bait-and-switch on Texas property taxpayers. Texas House Democrats recently released a school finance plan that offers no tax relief to employers. That’s right, the job creators that have fueled the economy and brought a record number of new career opportunities to Texans get no relief from Texas Democrats. To make matters worse, the Democrat plan involves $14.5 billion in new spending, with no suggestion on how to pay for it. If you’re curious to find out how that works in practice just ask someone from Detroit or Chicago.
The school lobby groups are equally disingenuous. They frequently say that the solution to spiraling property taxes is for the state to pay a larger share of public school costs. But when you read the bills these organizations support, they involve a lot of new spending with either no or token property tax relief.
This is an issue that the taxpayers have called upon — Republicans and Democrats — to find a solution. That is why both the Republican and Democrat platforms include true property tax relief. We encourage our elected officials to work toward meaningful change for the hardworking taxpayers of Texas.
Republican leadership and responsible policies have made our state the economic powerhouse it is. Texans should be encouraged by the progress that is being made and the Republican Party of Texas, our leadership and our activists, look forward to working with our elected leaders towards meaningful property tax relief.
James Dickey is chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.