AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) – “The latest is that the House has respectfully set sales tax (cuts) aside – I want to have that discussion again in the future, but we’ve set that aside – and we agreed that we’ll have a $10,000 Homestead Exemption increase.
“One thing that I want to point out, and its been the message that the House has been trying to deliver all Session long is, we’re proud to do tax relief, but we don’t want it sold incorrectly,” State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, the Texas House’s chief tax authority tells Insider’s Jim Cardle.
“People get very frustrated by elected leaders who don’t tell the truth, and who over-sell things to them. So the House’s position has been that we’re proud to do a $10,000 property tax exemption and get that done … But in the House we want to be very clear; we’re probably not going to be able to even really lower what that Property Tax Bill is.
“The best way to do that is for you to go talk to your City Council, go talk to your County Commissioner, go talk to your School Board. They control those rates. And, appraisals aren’t really the problem … appraisals can go up, but the rates should go down. That is only controlled at that local level,” Bonnen said.
“So in the House of Representatives, we want to be telling the truth and we want reality as to what’s going on,” said Bonnen, who chairs the powerful House Ways & Means Committee.
“One of the sticking points we’re trying to resolve right now is – and its a little bit frustrating because its not that we don’t want there to be an immediate opportunity of lessening the pain, but the Tax Assessor-Collectors have testified saying ‘we have no position on this, but you need to understand that we’re not sure we can have a Constitutional Election to increase the Homestead Exemption and then load that into software and put that into tax bills effective this year.’
“We’re visiting with the Lt. Governor and the Senate about that, because the last thing we want to do is create confusion on our taxpayers Property Tax bills. That’s really the final issue we’re trying to resolve … and, its not really even an issue we’re debating over policy because it’s an issue about what can be done mechanically,” Bonnen said.
Earlier this year, in a Texas Insider article, Bonnen said:
“Three times from 1997 to 2006 the Legislature delivered property tax relief. Three times voters never received promised relief, and three times the state increased state spending on a property tax cut that simply vanished.
“There’s a reason the political class has a credibility problem with the public: too often they don’t keep their promises.
“In 2006, voters were sold a property tax cut that would reduce tax bills, on average, by $2,000. That never materialized. By the time the appraiser got his percentage, and local districts raised rates again, 80% of the promised tax cut had evaporated, never making it to homeowners.
“Worse yet, county, city and special purpose districts erased the rest of the reduction completely.”
Concerning other policy issues Bonnen revealed during his interview, earlier this week House Speaker Joe Straus wrote in an op-ed carried by the Texas Insider:
“We voted for Tax Relief. The strong performance of our private sector has given the Legislature an opportunity to reduce the tax burden on families and businesses.
“The House has voted for two major tax-relief proposals, and we are now working out differences with the Senate.
“We addressed Border Security. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House passed legislation that would bring consistency to our security efforts along the Texas-Mexico border while ensuring that other areas of the state are not left vulnerable.
“We also provided additional tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to combat drug trafficking and human smuggling. The Senate has passed similar legislation, and I believe we will agree to a solution that makes our entire state safer.
“The House has compiled a strong record so far. But our work is not finished,” Straus said.