AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Over the weekend, Texas voters overwhelmingly passed two constitutional amendments that will lower property taxes.
Proposition 1 will lower property taxes for certain disabled and elderly citizens, while Proposition 2 will increase homestead tax exemptions.
“This proposition increases the homestead exemption amount from $25,000 to $40,000. What that means for the average voter is that you should realize about $175 worth of savings in the coming year,” James Quintero, a policy director with Texas Public Policy Foundation, explained Monday.
That pales in comparison to what Travis County residents are paying in total, on average.
“For the average Travis County homeowner, those persons are going to pay about $9,261 this year in property taxes,” Quintero said.
This year, residential appraisals increased 56% in Travis County. TPPF said it hopes this will remain top of mind for lawmakers, come the next legislative session.
“I think a lot of folks who opened up their notice of appraised values last month had a big surprise. And, and they’re all wondering, ‘am I going to be able to continue to afford my house?'” he said. “And I think it’s, it’s going to be that sentiment that really drives big change in the next legislative session.”
Others, though, like the nonprofit policy institute Every Texan, warn of the effects more cuts to property taxes could have.
“I understand the public pressure. But the public is also very interested in having good schools and good roads, and adequate police protection and everything else. Those are paid for with taxes,” Dick Lavine with Every Texan said Monday.
TPPF is recommending tapping into unused funds, though.
“When they come into session, they’re going to have about a $15 billion budget surplus,” Quintero said. “Part of the reason that is because we did well to control the growth of the state budget, but also the economy is over performing expectations. And as a result, we have tax revenues that are well in excess of what we expected.”
He said lawmakers could apply those funds down to the local level.
“What we’re suggesting is to use budget surplus monies to compress the school district maintenance and operations tax rate. And we can get a pretty significant amount of tax compression in place. And if we do that enough, over time, we can actually get that M-and-O tax rate down to zero,” he continued.
Both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan included property tax reform in their interim charges for committees to weigh ahead of session beginning in January.
Gov. Greg Abbott and democratic gubernatorial challenger Beto O’Rourke have also publicly supported property tax relief.