As County elected officials across this State, my colleagues and I congratulate you on becoming a member of the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature.

During the 86th Session, the Legislature took significant steps to reform the property tax system: changes to the appraisal process, streamlining taxing entities tax rate approval process, and improving transparency in tax rate development. During the 86th Session, you did a heavy legislative lift reforming the appraisal system. During the 87th Session, it’s time to actually cut individual and business property taxes.

County Commissioners Court implement the property tax system that you authorize. We are your partners and use the processes you created. We stand ready to work with you again, but the priority should be significant property tax cuts for homeowners and small business.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr.

To this end, the Governor should make the following property tax cut proposals emergency items and the Legislature should pass them without delay:

First, give counties more options for property tax relief for residents and businesses. The  legislature should authorize counties to have the ability to offer fixed dollar exemptions to residential homesteads, an option for business property tax relief, and revenue options outside of property taxes.

Second, the State should use its significant amount of COVID-19 federal funds to offer homeowners and small businesses one-time grants for mortgage or property tax assistance. Just like the rental assistance programs counties across the state have offered, homeowners and small businesses deserve direct relief too.

Third, the State needs to pay for day-to-day operating costs for public education (M&O). This would result in everyone’s property tax bill being cut by more than half. So, if you just wrote a check to your County Tax Assessor for $4,000, next year you would write it for less than $2,000. This property tax relief is for everyone – individuals and businesses.

Currently, Texas has the 13th highest property tax among all 50 states. If the State paid for daily operations (M&O) of the public schools, Texas would drop into the low 40s. We believe that the State can replace the property tax reductions with increased revenue from the approximately thirty other taxes currently collected and by reviewing current exemptions.

Let us be clear that we are not wanting overall tax revenue to be increased. We are in no way suggesting any consideration of a personal income tax. We do not support an increase in the State’s general sales and use tax percentage. We believe there is a way but is there a will?

These three items will help alleviate the current pressure many of our constituents are facing. In addition to these fixes, Counties stand ready to work with you to fix our broken property tax system. Welcome back – now let’s get to work.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. It is based upon a letter Judge Treviño sent to the Cameron County Legislative Delegation as they headed to Austin for the 87th Legislative Session. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author.

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