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That collective gasp you hear is the sound of sticker shock as homeowners across Texas open up their new property tax bills. Assessments are up at staggering rates, including an average of 15 percent in Houston, 11 percent in Austin, 11 percent in San Antonio and nine percent in Dallas. Homeowners are being gouged for more and more every year, and we believe enough is enough.

The Texas Senate has taken strong action to help property owners, who are shouldering an unfair, disproportionate amount of the overall tax burden. The Senate has approved SJR 1, SB 1, and SB 1760 that together provide $2 billion in immediate,meaningful, and lasting property tax relief.

SJR 1 and SB 1 raise the homestead exemption – which has not been increased since 1997 – to 25 percent of the state’s median home value. That means as home values rise, so will savings for taxpayers. The average homeowner would save $207 in 2016, and that savings is projected to increase to $235 in 2017. Texas homeowners need this relief now, and that is why SJR 1 will go before voters on the Constitutional Amendment election ballot in August, allowing homeowners to realize savings starting in 2016.

They also deserve to know that this savings won’t evaporate in the face of rising property taxes. To address this concern, the Senate approved SB 1760, putting downward pressure on property taxes. It reforms the way property taxes are set and requires a 60-percent supermajority vote of the governing body in order to raise property taxes. It requires taxing authorities to justify the reason for attempting to increase tax rates on election notices and in actual ballot language, rather than simply publishing the new tax rate.

The Senate’s plan to increase the homestead exemption would ensure that 100 percent of this relief goes to homeowners. In contrast, businesses pay 41 percent of the sales tax, so less than 60 percent of a flat sales tax reduction would benefit average Texans.

The Legislature must do its part to provide Texans with property tax relief and property tax reform. Now that these bills have passed the Senate, the finish line is within sight. These proposals need to reach Governor Abbott’s desk. Texas homeowners need to know that help is on the way.

Senators Jane Nelson, Robert Nichols, Carlos Uresti, Brandon Creighton, and Paul Bettencourt have been asked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to negotiate tax policy with the Texas House.

Copyright © Senator Brandon Creighton, All rights reserved.

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