HB 3 screws Texas taxpayers; renders HB 2 near worthless

Pratt on TexasThe Texas House passed its bloated school finance bill, House Bill 3, on Wednesday and taxpayers now must put their trust and hope in Senate conferees down the line because the House bill, pardon the directness, screws property tax payers.

Rep. Huberty, committee chairman and the bill’s author, claims HB 3 gives property tax relief and implies that such would be permanent by this tricky phrase: “Every Texan will see a permanent property tax rate reduction…” To anyone who knows how it works, that is deception because forcing a permanent tax rate at a lower level does nothing to even slow property tax increases.

In fact, if rates were permanently lowered by 4 percent and property values rose just 5 percent the next year, taxpayers would experience a net tax increase of 1 percent right away.

So what if schools drop the rate about 4 percent? It only takes one annual property appraisal round to eat that up. In fact, if rates were permanently lowered by 4 percent and property values rose just 5 percent the next year, taxpayers would experience a net tax increase of 1 percent right away.

Under HB 3 annual appraisal creep would do just as it does now: Allow schools big property tax increases on taxpayers all the while keeping the tax rate the same. The part about an election if the rate is raised is pointless because school boards will not need to raise the tax rate, they will just rely on appraisal increases to keep bringing in more and more to spend.

Without subjecting school districts, who levy by far the majority of property taxes on us, to the same 2.5 percent tax increase ratification election trigger as other local governments as HB 2 does, we’re basically in the same boat as we are in now.

This is a case of where getting something in HB 2 isn’t getting much because HB 3, the school bill, keeps the largest leviers of property taxes outside the reformed system.

Put more bluntly, House Bill 2, the property tax reform bill, while containing some needed and good things, is fairly worthless at allowing voters across Texas to get a handle on constantly rising property taxes because the bulk of property taxes would not be subject to its most important reforms.

This is a case of where getting something in HB 2 isn’t getting much because HB 3, the school bill, keeps the largest leviers of property taxes outside the reformed system. It stinks.

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