Author Topic: How Paul Bettencourt Stopped A Tax Hike, Saved Tax Relief  (Read 141 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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How Paul Bettencourt Stopped A Tax Hike, Saved Tax Relief
« on: July 17, 2019, 07:48:32 AM »
Texas Scorecard by Cary Cheshire July 15, 2019

“We’ve never had a tax swap that worked,” said Bettencourt.

With lawmakers coming to Austin with a $10.5 billion surplus, Texas homeowners were excited about the prospect of substantial property tax relief. While they eventually received what might be considered a down payment on tax relief, they narrowly staved off efforts by Republicans to increase taxes.

At the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislature, the Capitol was abuzz with comity and cheeriness. With House Speaker Joe Straus out of the way, conservatives believed their reforms could have greater success, and with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick striking a gentler tone, establishment lawmakers were hopeful they’d be able to “get things done.”

Meanwhile, Texas’ booming economy had delivered record revenues to the state’s coffers. A $10.5 billion surplus was forecast by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar—a figure that House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas (R–Simonton) described as “more money than we’ve ever had.”

That money could be used in two ways: increasing government spending or reducing taxes.

Most in the Texas Capitol wanted the vast majority to be spent on growing government, while most taxpayers wanted to cut their property taxes. The two were at odds. Each recognized that any money spent on the other item would necessarily decrease the amount available to spend on their preferred category.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, bureaucratic greed was initially made the priority.

Instead of competing amongst themselves as in previous sessions, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen worked in unison on a plan to grow government—leaving very little left for property tax relief. Both chambers passed bloated budgets with only $2.7 billion, or 30 percent of the surplus, spent on lowering property taxes.

Their solution? A sales tax “swap,” which would later be shown to be a net tax increase.

In early April, the Big Three issued a joint press release in which they called for a sales tax increase to provide the revenue necessary for property tax relief.

    “Texans are fed up with skyrocketing property taxes. At the beginning of the legislative session, the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker laid out an agenda for property tax relief through the passage of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2 to limit property tax growth.

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