Constitutional amendments to ease property taxes

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By State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst

As appraisals continue to rise across Texas, my office is often approached by constituents about the urgent need for a property tax break. Some longtime homeowners even face tax on their homes. Fortunately, there is something we can all do in the coming weeks to combat these sky-high valuations.

Property tax breaks are possible, but your vote is needed to make them happen. Potential help will come in the form of two proposed amendments to the Texas constitution, both of which will appear on the ballot for the May 7, 2022 election. If approved, these changes could save the average homeowner up to $300 a year.

Proposal 1 is from Senate Joint Resolution 2, which I co-authored with Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) during the second special session. The idea for SJR 2 came from a voter in Senate District 18, and I’ve been proud to work with many local homeowners to get this legislation passed.

To put it bluntly, this proposal will compress the M&O tax rate for homeowners with a 65+ exemption or a disability, just as HB 3 did for other homeowners back in 2019. Your school tax rates (M&O) are failing because we passed HB 3. This will help seniors get the same benefit.

While the legal phrasing is difficult to understand, I’ll vote an enthusiastic YES — let’s put some of that property tax money back into the pockets of homeowners.

The additional proposal, Proposition 2, is much shorter and easy to understand. It proposes increasing the homestead property tax exemption for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,000. This is a much-needed adjustment, and I was proud to co-author this legislation with Sen. Bettencourt last year.

This translates into savings for the average homeowner of $200 or more per year.

If passed by voters, these two constitutional amendments will ease the strain on homeowners’ wallets while ensuring our schools are properly funded.

While both proposals are a step in the right direction, I fully recognize that these measures are far from enough. That’s why I also submitted SJR 31 last session. Although not passed, this joint resolution would have lowered the cap on homestead ratings from 10% annual increase to 5%. With the lower cap, there are fewer homeowners to navigate through the protest process. At the next session, I will resubmit this joint resolution to lower the homestead rating cap to provide greater relief from a flawed system.

My own family pays substantial property taxes, as do so many of my constituents. We feel the same anxiety when those annual reviews arrive in the mail. Please join me in taking action and vote YES on May 7, 2022 for Prop 1 and Prop 2.

Fighting for lower property taxes while continuing to invest in education is imperative. So many of our freedoms come from the ability to own private property.

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