The Rift Between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick And House Speaker Dade Phelan Over How To Reduce Property Taxes Is Widening

The two leading Republicans in the Texas Legislature, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, have dug in their heels on how to lower property owners’ tax burdens. They have made opposing recommendations on how to achieve so, and a route to a potential compromise is unclear.

Patrick wants to increase the state’s homestead exemption, which is the portion of a home’s value that is exempt from taxation, as well as give seniors an additional benefit.

Phelan is in favor of restricting how much the value of a homeowner’s primary residence that is taxed by school districts can increase annually under the state’s “appraisal cap.” Each claims that their idea would not significantly lower taxes.

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Patrick drew a line in the sand this week, promising not to negotiate with the House on the notion, and has been adamant in his opposition to Phelan’s assessment cap plan.

Republican Patrick of Houston told The Dallas Morning News, “I can’t compromise on something I know is not the proper policy.” Although there are other issues we can work with the House on, I would say that this is not one of them because the math is the math.

Phelan strengthened his suggestion in the meanwhile. The Beaumont Republican hasn’t ruled out increasing the state’s homestead exemption, as Patrick does, but he questioned the actual benefit to property owners. Phelan contends that by protecting homeowners from rapidly rising property prices, a tighter cap would do more to reduce or delay their tax obligations.

In an opinion piece that was published in The Houston Chronicle on Wednesday, Phelan stated that it was the duty of the Texas Legislature to “do what we can to maximize tax savings for Texas taxpayers.”

High stakes are involved in the deadlock between the two chambers. Gov. Greg Abbott’s promise to use at least half of the state’s roughly $33 billion surplus to reduce the state’s one of the highest in the country property taxes was a key component of his reelection campaign last year.

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