AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas House adjourned after passing two bills and less than 24 hours after Governor Greg Abbott called for a special session, setting up what could be a tense battle with the state Senate.
The House passed a bill Tuesday evening that would use state $12.3 billion of state money to lower school property taxes.
“It reduces the overall amount of school property taxes that Texans pay. So for someone with a $300,000 home, this should save them over the next two years, about $1,000 to $1,500 dollars,” Rice University Political Science Professor Mark Jones said.
Shortly after the House passed the bill and adjourned, Governor Greg Abbott, who had called for the first special session to start last night, signaled his support of the House version of the legislation.
“It provides more property tax cuts than any other proposal at this time. Over 30 homeowner, consumer, and business groups across Texas support it. I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk,” Abbott wrote in a statement.
Today, the Texas House passed HB 1/HJR 1 for substantial property tax cuts.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 31, 2023
It provides more property tax cuts than any other proposal at this time.
Over 30 homeowner, consumer, and business groups across Texas support it.
I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk. pic.twitter.com/mkFm7axbI6
The aggressive move by the House, to pass the bill and adjourn, could fall flat in the Senate, where members have supported a different approach to cutting property taxes: increasing the homestead exemption.
“The Senate is now left with a take it or leave it ultimatum on property tax relief,” Jones said. “The Senate, by rejecting the House legislation, is effectively thumbing their nose at the governor. And the governor can keep calling the Senate into special session all summer long.”
The House didn’t review a different version of property tax relief the Senate passed hours earlier on Tuesday. The Senate is now in recess until Friday when it could consider the House version.
Before adjourning, the House also passed a bill aimed at border security, which would increase the penalty for someone convicted of human smuggling - the only other priority Abbott set for the first special session.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who leads the Senate, responded to the House move on Tuesday night in a statement on Twitter.
“Something Governor Abbott and Speaker (Dade) Phelan should remember -- for any bill to pass, it must go through both the House AND the Senate. While the House may have thrown in the towel, the Senate continues to work,” Patrick wrote in part.
Governor Abbott released a statement this evening where he said, “The Texas House is the only chamber that passed a property tax cut bill that is germane to the special session that I called to provide Texans with property tax relief.”— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) May 31, 2023
He seems misinformed about the roles of the… pic.twitter.com/BrVjyzvZYJ
Abbott on Monday night wrote in a statement that several special sessions will be required to get legislation passed that wasn’t accomplished during the regular session, which ended on Memorial Day.