Austin lawmaker defends vote against property tax reform bill

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas lawmakers move closer to fulfilling the promise of property tax reform. But they’re still working to change the bill advancing through the legislature.

Thursday night the House Ways and Means Committee made new changes to SB 2, the Senate’s bill on property tax reform. One key change tightened the cap on annual property tax growth for school districts. The original plan called for a 2.5 percent cap. The committee lowered it to 2 percent.

The final vote was 8-3. Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) told KXAN he voted against the newly altered bill. 

“I have to look at it through the lens of how it’s going to impact Travis county and how it’s going to impact the city of Austin,” he said.

Rep. Rodriguez said the proposed 3.5 percent cap for cities and counties is still a little bit too low.  The current cap is 8 percent.

He is concerned that the low cap number will affect the ability of cities and counties to provide sufficient law enforcement. “For the city of Austin, for example, public safety is roughly 67 percent of the budget. And if you limit the city’s ability to pay for that, then what’s the alternative?” 

Even though he voted against the bill, Rep. Rodriguez plans to keep working alongside committee Chairman Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). “I voted no and he understands I’m going to continue working with him,” Rodriguez said. 

With Rep. Rodriguez representing the Austin area, his biggest concern regarding property tax reform is the impact on the city and Travis County. 

“I try to make it (the bill) so the city of Austin and Travis county can still do what it needs to do, serving the public, serving my district, serving my constituents and serving the citizens of Travis County and Austin,” he continued. 

With the Governor, Lt. Governor, and House Speaker all promising property tax reform this session, Rep. Rodriguez knows that something is going to pass. “So let’s just make it the best bill possible,” he said.

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