The Texas House on Saturday didn't let threats of a special session pressure leadership into re-opening negotiations with the Senate on property tax legislation.
The House adjourned for the day Saturday without appointing conferees to work out with senators the chambers' differences on Senate Bill 669. With only two days left in the session and various key deadlines looming or blown, that means that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may have to accept defeat on the issue — at least for the regular session.
The author of the Senate’s main property tax proposal of the session, Senate Bill 2, criticized his House counterparts for effectively killing the issue.
“The leadership of the Texas House has chosen to ignore the taxpayers from around the state who have overwhelmingly called for property tax reform and relief,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston.
“I will ask Governor Abbott to include property tax relief in any call for a special session to get Texans the property tax relief that they deserve.”
The two chambers are at odds over when and how voters should get a shot at vetoing the property tax rates that cities, counties and special taxing districts want to adopt.
The upper chamber wants such rollback elections to be required when a taxing entity wants to increase its cumulative collections by 5 percent. The House's version leaves in place current law that allows residents to petition a vote if collections increase by 8 percent.
There's been lots of debate about whether such a change would bring about meaningful property tax relief, as supporters claim. There has also been debate over whether city and county budgets would be hamstrung to afford services citizens demand, which opponents claim.
"The House passed a strong version of that bill that includes key reforms for taxpayers," said Jason Embry, a spokesman for Speaker Joe Straus.