Property Tax Cuts Receive a Solid Approval Rating

Texas voters signaled their approval of property tax cuts in early voting.
Texas voters signaled their approval of property tax cuts in early voting. Screenshot
Tuesday's elections showed widespread support for the statewide amendment that would allow the Texas Legislature to spend up to $18 billion to provide property tax cuts to homeowners and business owners.

In the final tally,  Proposition 4, which allows this, took in 334,201 votes with 92,894 in opposition.

Texas lawmakers asked voters to approve a property tax package they had already passed that decreased school district taxes and put other property tax-related reductions in place during the earlier special session in August.

This included increasing the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, capping the taxable value on a non-homestead property under $5 million to not rise above 20 percent over the next three years, and cutting down the number of businesses paying a franchise tax.

In the days leading up to Election Day, Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the primary author of Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3 – the property tax deal legislation – took to X, formerly Twitter, to urge voters to vote for Proposition 4.

He wrote: "Told everyone to Vote FOR Proposition FOUR on the November 7th ballot to get that Texas-sized property tax cut to 5.72 Million Homeowners and every Business Owner in Texas with my #SB3 doubling the franchise tax exemption too!"
According to Bettencourt, the average homeowner would save about $1,200 yearly on property tax bills, with savings increasing for those over 65 or disabled.

Bettencourt has been one of the largest proponents of the deal, with most Texas lawmakers in the House and Senate backing it since an agreement was reached over how best to provide property tax relief after the matter was not settled during the regular session.

The resolution that put Proposition 4 on the ballot, House Joint Resolution 2, passed unanimously in the Senate and on a majority vote in the House, with only five Democrats voting against it.

Critics of the property tax deal argued throughout the regular and special sessions that renters — who pay a portion of Texas schools’ property taxes — were left out of the equation when developing a plan to provide property tax relief to homeowners and business owners.

As local political experts expected, Proposition 13, permitting state justices and judges to serve until they are 79 – up from the past retirement age of 75 – was  the only statewide measure that didn't pass.

These experts had doubted voters would approve this amid ongoing concern nationwide of older people remaining in office with possible health and other age-related issues affecting their ability to do their jobs.

Proponents say this attitude exists despite medical advances and longer life expectancy, with more and more people continuing to work effectively into their later years. Roughly 64 percent of expected votes were cast against Proposition 13, with only 36 supporting the measure.

The remaining 12 statewide propositions passed. Several of these statewide measures set up funds to send taxpayer dollars to state parks, energy expenditures, and expanding Texas’s broadband network.

Proposition 7, the energy-related measure that will create the “Texas Energy Fund,” received some backlash, according to reports, because it excludes sustainable energy sources, only supporting carbon-based energy and power production.

Those against this fund have also said that despite what lawmakers who are in support of it say, it does not strengthen the already weakened state energy grid.

Despite these concerns, it received 67 percent of the vote in Harris County, with 33 percent against the proposition.

Embedded into these likely to be approved amendments is also a cost-of-living increase for retired teachers, with $3.3 billion to increase pensions between 2 and 6 percent through the Teacher Retirement System – a measure that garnered widespread early voter support.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.