DALLAS — After years of waiting, many would say suffering, property owners in Texas could finally see their taxes reduced if voters approve a constitutional amendment this November.
It seems like just about everyone in the state is excited about lower property tax bills.
Why, then, did State Senator Nathan Johnson write an op-ed throwing some cold water on the idea?
“I like the tax break -- [but] it’s too big,” the Dallas Democrat told us bluntly on Inside Texas Politics. “It’s too much frosting on the cupcake.”
In his op-ed, Senator Johnson argues the state could pay for it all in the future, in more ways than one.
The proposed $18 billion in property tax cuts is fueled by a historic budget surplus that won’t be around in future years.
More than $5 billion of that would increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000. That is the amount a homeowner can take off their home’s value for tax purposes.
Nearly $13 billion would be used to reduce the school property tax rate. This is known as “compression.”
But Johnson wonders what happens in the future when we don’t have the surplus to pay for the cuts.
"A more reasonable number might have been $10 billion instead of $18," the democrat argued. "With that difference of $8 billion, we still would receive a very large tax break. I mean maybe 12. Maybe 8. Pick a number. But the things that we didn’t talk about are what could we do with that additional money."
The senator made clear his taxes would go down as well, and he says there are good elements in the legislation.
And he thinks voters will approve the property tax cuts.
But if he’s worried about these future obligations, why did he support the legislation in the first place?
"I wasn’t given the choice to vote for the right sized bill, right?" he said. "It’s either property tax reduction, or no property tax reduction. And in principle, I support the whole thing. Secondly, that choice is now going to go to the voters."
And ultimately, the senator says he wants voters to head to the polls aware of the possible consequences.
That happens November 7.
If passed, the reductions will be applied to this year’s tax bills.