By Gov. Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas
Here in Odessa, and across the state of Texas, homeowners and businesses are being crushed by property taxes.
During the past twenty years, property tax collections in Texas have increased by 195 percent.
Rising property taxes are undermining private property rights and placing a costly burden on the people of Texas. Seniors face the threat of being taxed out of the homes they have lived in for decades, younger generations are being priced out of the market for their first home, and business owners are unable to grow their businesses because of higher property taxes.
Texans can no longer afford to bear this burden. That is why I have unveiled a new plan to provide property tax relief for homeowners and businesses.
Under this plan, I am calling for a 2.5 percent annual cap on property tax revenue growth. This is a simple, uniform measure that will keep property taxes in check, while still allowing for local governments and schools to increase revenue each year.
There may be cases where schools or local governments in fast-growing communities recommend surpassing this cap for specific purposes such as for law enforcement, teacher pay, or infrastructure.
Under this plan, local governments will only be able to exceed the cap for those special cases with a two-thirds supermajority approval by the voters and the local elected officials of the taxing authority.
Tackling our property tax problems will require a joint effort between local governments and the state government. In addition to the revenue cap, I am calling for a new law that prohibits the state from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments. If we are asking local governments to be more efficient and effective with their revenue, then the state can no longer place additional burden on cities and counties through unfunded mandates.
Lastly, it is time to address our local debt problem. Among the ten largest states, Texas has the second highest per capita debt burden in the nation. This is a driving force behind our property tax problems.
My plan gives more power to the voters by requiring that new local debt must be approved by a two-thirds supermajority vote by the people. This adds another layer of accountability for local governments, while helping to keep both local debt and property taxes under control.
Texans agree that our property tax system is broken.
For decades homeowners and businesses owners have struggled under the weight of ever-increasing property taxes. While there have been attempts in the past to fix this system, property taxes have continued to soar.
Texans can no longer afford to shoulder this burden. People in Odessa, and throughout Texas, deserve meaningful reforms that leave more money in their pockets.
With my plan, we will rein in excessive property tax growth, secure private property rights, and provide much-needed relief for the people of our great state.