Continued infighting among three of Texas’ top Republican lawmakers is sparking more tension in the state’s Capitol following the House's impeachment of the attorney general.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to social media to call out Gov. Greg Abbott's accolades for the House’s unanimous passage of its property tax cut bill, which was followed by a swift adjournment by House Speaker Dade Phelan.
But Patrick has taken aim at Abbott's comments and his taking credit for the House's property tax cut bill.
State's Top Leaders Out of AlignmentPatrick, Abbott, and Phelan met the night before the regular session ended on May 29. But the Republican leaders could not strike a deal on property tax cut legislation.
"Special session #1 will focus only on cutting property taxes and cracking down on illegal human smuggling," Abbott said at the time. "We must cut property taxes. During the regular session, we added $17.6 billion to cut property taxes. However, the legislature could not agree on how to allocate funds to accomplish this goal.
"Texans want and need a path towards eliminating property taxes. The best way to do that is to direct property tax reduction dollars to cut school property tax rates."
Multiple sessions are expected to cover the priorities not passed during the regular session.
Take It or Leave ItPhelan’s move delivered a strong message to Patrick, his Senate counterpart, that he has no intention of negotiating with the Senate on the agenda items.
The House adjournment means that the session has ended for the House. The Senate can accept the House version of the bills or not deliver on the items the governor ordered.
Speaker Phelan has been at the center of contention among Republicans who oppose the House’s unprecedented move to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 27 following a secret investigation by the House General Investigating Committee.
“It provides more cuts to property tax rates than any other proposal at this time. It is supported by the most respected think tank in the state, as well as more than 30 homeowner, consumer, and business groups across the state. I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk,” the governor said.
But on Tuesday, the Senate also unanimously passed its own version of the border security and property tax cut bills, along with a joint resolution that would give voters an opportunity to decide on increasing the homestead exemption to allow more Texans to be exempt from the property tax.
A homestead exemption is a permanent reduction of the amount you are taxed on your home, Lt. Gov. and president of the Senate Patrick said.
No Plans to Throw in the TowelThe lawmakers appear more aligned on the border security bill. But Patrick is not ready to concede on the Senate's expanded property tax measure.
Patrick said Texas homeowners expected more relief on their property taxes when Abbott was re-elected for a third term in November.
“Governor Abbott has finally shown his cards. He chooses to give homeowners 50% less of a tax cut, nearly $700 a year, to give corporations more,” Patrick said. “This is not what homeowners expected when they voted for him.”
House Bill 1 is solely based on compression, per Abbott’s agenda request, while the Senate plan includes compression, along with increasing the homestead exemption.
The House plan would bring property tax relief to all property owners, including businesses.
Compression reduces the school tax rate by 5 to 20 cents (whatever the rate is in a particular session), and the state picks up the amount to pay the school district instead of you, Patrick explained. He said that the House's "all-compression" plan would also take away the homestead exemption unanimously passed by the House during the regular session.
"Remember, an exemption is permanent. Compression is not," Patrick wrote. "When I became Lt. Governor in 2015, the state homestead exemption had been $15,000 for many years. I've increased it to $40,000."
The last homestead exemption increase from $25,000 to $40,000 was passed by lawmakers during the 87th Legislative session and approved by voters in May 2022. The Senate's homestead exemption increase, if approved, would be the biggest in the state's history.
"Under the Senate plan, you only get $700 a year in tax savings," according to Patrick. "Under our Senate plan, with compression and exemptions, you get $1,250-$1,450 a year. That's $700 more than the House and apparently the Governor wants to give you," he added.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Abbott's office for comment.