87th LegislatureElections 2022Taxes & SpendingProperty Tax Statewide Ballot Propositions Pass Overwhelmingly

State officials estimate the two amendments will reduce average property tax bills between $100 and $200.
May 7, 2022
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Texas voters passed two property tax-related constitutional amendments Saturday by overwhelming margins, early returns showed.

Proposition 1, which will apply the legislature’s 2019 school district property tax compression to homeowners with elderly and disabled homestead exemptions, had about 87 percent support. The state estimates it will reduce those average homesteads meeting that qualification by $110 in their 2023 property tax bill and $125 in 2024.

Proposition 2, which increases the standard school district homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000, had pulled in roughly 85 percent support. Officials estimate it will reduce the average property tax bill by $175 and for most homeowners will apply to this year’s tax bills.

Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the results shortly after early vote totals rolled in, saying, “Victory for ALL property owners in Texas!” He’s made property tax reform a central part of his re-election campaign — calling for appraisal reform, continued school district tax rate compression, and tying homesteads’ taxable value to their purchase price.

Others, including the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), are aiming for more substantial reform such as eliminating entirely the school district Maintenance & Operations (M&O) rate.

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The M&O rate amounts to half of Texans’ property tax bills and TPPF calls for buying it down to elimination over 10 years with surplus state dollars.

“It’s an overwhelming recognition that Texas homesteads need property tax relief,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who authored the two propositions as legislation during the third special session, told The Texan. “It’s a relief that even complex constitutional language doesn’t get in the way of property tax relief.”

Constitutional amendments are typically heavy on legal jargon and difficult to understand, particularly when related to the very complex property tax and school finance system in Texas.

Bettencourt further said that he expects there to be “substantial tax rate deductions” and that even in Travis County, which saw property appraisals increase over 50 percent this year, he predicted property tax bills will increase no more than 5 percent on average.

“We’re finally going to get to see the full benefit of SB 2 and HB 3 that were passed in 2019. The cavalry is really coming over the hill for homesteads.”

Going into the 2023 legislative session, the Texas legislature earmarked $3 billion of its federal coronavirus aid for property tax relief. While the money previously had a congressional prohibition from using it to cut taxes directly or indirectly, a Texas district court ruled last month that the stipulation abridged federal authority.

Just how that lump sum will be deployed remains to be seen, but Bettencourt hopes it will be used to supplement the local property tax rate compression — replacing local tax collections with state dollars — it deployed in the last two sessions.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.