(The Center Square) – After Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to veto bills the legislature passed with bipartisan support, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the governor “can't have it both ways. He is telling the House and Senate to work together on property taxes while vetoing legislation that the House and Senate worked on together.”
In a series of tweets, Patrick said Abbott was vetoing bills that made it through a very difficult session, simply because “the Speaker and the House walked off the job and went on vacation. The Senate has been working.”
On May 30, after the Senate and House passed differing property tax relief bills, the Senate continued to hold hearings on border security, and is still in session. The House adjourned.
“The Senate and I are committed to delivering real property tax relief to the average Texas homeowner,” Patrick said. “The House Plan benefits big business and the wealthiest Texans the most.”
Referring to a $65 million estate for sale in the Hunters Creek neighborhood of Houston, he said, “This Houston home would get a $176,561 tax cut, and the average homeowner would get just $712. Under our Senate Plan, both houses would get the same $100,000 homestead exemption.
“The Senate doesn't take money from the average homeowner and give it to big business and the wealthiest. I won't back down in the fight for property tax relief for everyday Texans.”
As Abbott began vetoing bills, Patrick posted another statement on social media stating the “Abbott/House Property Tax Relief Plan” was “lies masquerading as the truth.”
— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) June 17, 2023
He also said it's a “fantasy to think that we can simply do away with property taxes in Texas,” referring to Abbott's proposal. Abbott has said his plan is to over time eliminate only the school district maintenance and operation (M&O) taxes, not all property taxes.
Abbott called the first special legislative session on May 29, which lasts for 30 days. However, in the House it lasted for less than 24 hours. The House passed the two bills on the governor's call and left Austin.
Since the House has already adjourned and since Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said he isn't budging on his approach to property tax relief, a second special legislative session is expected to be called before the end of the month.
The governor said in his veto statements for scores of bills that they could be reconsidered in a future legislative session after the legislature passes the property tax relief plan he's proposed, which the House passed and the Senate didn't.
The Senate's plan includes reducing compression (what is owed through M&O taxes) and increasing the homestead exemption.
Patrick has argued that he “will not step back from this. I might be the last guy standing, but I will be the last guy standing. Homeowners deserve real property tax cuts. That's a combination of compression and homestead exemptions.”
Abbott's goal, he argues, is to reduce compression over time to eliminate the school district M&O tax and move “toward transformational change in the state of Texas.
“The goal that I've articulated … that the House has supported … is to use money to engage in what's called compression, which is buying down the property tax rates of maintenance and operations in school districts. Every dollar we spend should go towards that goal so that once and for all we can be known as actually eliminating one of the property taxes in Texas.
“Any time that we use money for an alternative strategy,” he said, as in the homestead exemption, “that's taking money away from a clearly articulated goal that Texans want – to eliminate the M&O tax forever. It's the largest part of the property tax bill that we should try to eliminate.”