Slower property tax increases may be coming our way in the state of Texas. The much-debated Senate Bill 2 passed through the Senate yesterday after the only Republican senator opposing the bill, Amarillo Sen. Kel Seliger, stepped aside.
The Senate vote was a victory for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who has been favoring this bill and has publicly been supporting it.
“Today is a historic day,” Lt. Gov. Patrick said after the vote was finalized. “We heard a lot of comments from the floor … from those in opposition who were concerned about cities and counties and their budgets. We’re concerned about the people’s budget — that’s what we’re concerned about.”
Senate Bill 2 passed with an overall tally of 18-12. The bill will now be debated in the Texas House a week from Wednesday. This bill has been one of the most hotly debated topics as local authorities have been in opposition to the bill, believing that it will deter their ability to fund the local government.
SB2, which was changed on the Senate floor Monday, caps property tax revenue growth for counties, cities and special taxing districts at 3.5% a year, up from 2.5% in the original version. School districts would stay capped at 2.5% a year; however, they are getting a boost of new funding under separate legislation this session.
Historically, the state of Texas has only needed voter approval after collecting more than 8% in new revenue in a fiscal year. What that did is gave voters the option to hold a special voting session to decide whether to accept the higher than normal tax revenue. Under the new proposed legislation, it will automatically trigger a special voting session for the local voters to decide whether or not they deem the tax revenue necessary.