Currently city and school districts can raise taxes 8% a year without voter approval.
This new bill, passed by the Texas Senate, and now heads to the House, would limit the increase to 2.5% per year.
AUSTIN — Legislation that would slow property tax increases for home and business owners cleared the Texas Senate on Monday, after the sole Republican opponent of the bill stepped aside to allow the vote.
The vote was a victory for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a longtime proponent of property tax relief and champion of the Senate bill. He was again pitted against his political foil, Amarillo Sen. Kel Seliger, the only Republican who openly opposes the bill. Seliger held it up for weeks before changing his mind Monday morning and voting to allow the debate to proceed.
"Today is a historic day," Patrick said after the vote. "We heard a lot of comments from the floor ... from those in opposition who were concerned about cities and counties and their budgets. We're concerned about the people's budget — that's what we're concerned about."
Senate Bill 2 passed 18-12 with Seliger joining the Democrats in opposition. One senator, Brownsville Democrat Eddie Lucio, was present but did not vote. The bill will be debated in the Texas House, which has written its own version of the priority legislation, a week from Wednesday.
Authored by Houston Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a former tax assessor-collector, SB2 would slow property tax growth by limiting how much revenue local governments and school districts can collect each year. It would not make tax bills smaller.
SB2, which was changed on the Senate floor Monday, caps property tax revenue growth for counties, cities and special taxing districts at 3.5% a year, up from 2.5% in the original version. School districts would stay capped at 2.5% a year; however, they are getting a boost of new funding under separate legislation this session.
The cap could be exceeded if taxing districts hold elections and voters approve the increase. Currently, local governments can increase property tax revenue by up to 8% a year without an election.