Bettencourt: Slowing Growth Rate is Property Tax Relief

Critics of Texas' Republican leadership are warning homeowners not to buy into their pitch of property tax relief this legislative session.

Their skepticism dates back to the 2006 gubernatorial race between Rick Perry and challenger Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

“The average homeowner will receive a $2,000 tax cut,” Perry pledged.

“Have you gotten your $2,000 property tax cut yet?  Don’t go running for your mail box,” Strayhorn fired back in a campaign ad.  “Turns out most seniors get nothing, and the rest of us just about $52.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, also sounded the alarm back then, and promises this time will be different.

“A few of us were there as tax assessors saying what was being done last decade wouldn’t work,” he says.  “That’s why I fought so hard to put growth controls on revenue streams because otherwise, as appraised values go up, it will just eat you out of house and home.”

“That’s why the governor’s proposal at two-and-a-half percent on the rate of growth of the entire revenue stream is really important.”

But it can't be done without school finance reform.

“We have to reduce the state budget’s reliance on ‘Robin Hood,’ aka school finance,” says Bettencourt.  “Because otherwise, you don’t allow the school districts to actually change their tax rate as values go up.”

“That’s the only way to get tax relief to taxpayers and to get new money into the school systems for new programs.”

Bettencourt is determined to make it happen as chair of the Senate's newly formed Committee on Property Tax.

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