‘A lot of moving parts’ – Tax reform plan worries local leaders

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) – The Texas Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on Senate Bill 2. That bill limits property tax growth by putting a 2-point-5 percent cap each year on how much taxes can rise. Anything above that level would require voter approval. Right now, the cap is 8-percent.

Supporters of the bill say it’s an essential step toward property tax relief. But some city leaders worry the property tax cap could hurt the ability of local governments to pay for services. 

“Senate Bill 2 has a lot of moving parts in it and property tax reform needs to happen,” said Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) in an interview for the State of Texas politics program. Watson once served as mayor of Austin, giving him perspective on the concerns some local governments have regarding SB 2.

“One of the big issues with property tax reform is that the state has become so overly reliant on local property taxes to fund the state’s obligation for the public school system,” Watson explained. “The question is what do we do to make sure our locally elected officials, our mayors and councils, our elected commissioners court, get to make the decisions they’re elected to make by the people… on how they’re going to fund police, fire and EMS, and parks, playgrounds and libraries and things of that nature.”

Sen. Watson believes that fixing school finance holds the key to property tax relief. Last week, House members passed their version of a school finance bill. The Senate’s plan is still in the works. 

The House is moving more quickly,” Watson said. “The Senate’s version of that, the blank has yet to be filled in.”

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