Skip to comments.In case you were wondering ...[TEXAS TAX]
Posted on 05/22/2006 3:02:40 PM PDT by Dubya
Notably absent from the Republican leadership's self-congratulatory comments regarding the recently completed special session on public school finance were any references to the fact that, because of the leadership's inaction, more than 1.3 million senior citizens and people with disabilities in Texas will receive little or no property tax relief.
Given that the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker were all in positions to intervene on behalf of these vulnerable populations (living for the most part on fixed incomes), I question why the interests of these particular Texans were left so far behind.
House Bill 1, the property tax reduction bill, as proposed, neglected to provide proportionate tax relief for seniors and people with disabilities currently receiving a freeze on tax increases as other homeowners would receive.
Realizing that these people had been left out of the bill, I offered an amendment and introduced a constitutional amendment to ensure that all Texas homeowners, including those whose taxes are frozen because they are over 65 or have a disability, would receive the same level or proportion of tax relief.
The amendment was adopted by the House and retained in the bill by the Senate. But the constitutional amendment still needed to pass.
Eastland's Republican Rep. Jim Keffer, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told me that "a decision had been made" (by whom, I wondered) to not let my proposed constitutional amendment get out of committee.
Instead, legislation sponsored by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, that would provide a temporary reduction in taxes for seniors and people with disabilities -- but that also would allow their taxes to float up in the future -- was quickly passed out of the committee and scheduled for floor debate.
Berman asked me to sign on to his bills as a joint author. I told him that as long as language authorizing property taxes owed by senior and disabled Texans to float up remained in his proposals, I would not. Such language was antithetical to the firmly established principle of a tax freeze for these populations.
Berman argued that the additional amount of taxes owed by seniors and people with disabilities would not amount to that much. So why, I asked, were he and leadership so insistent upon including the float-up language? He said something about "fairness."
Once again, the full House accepted amendments to replace the Berman bills with my original language, providing proportionate tax relief and a permanent tax freeze for seniors and people with disabilities. But Berman's proposed constitutional amendment, as amended, still had to pass in the Senate. (Berman's stand-alone bill, as amended to reflect my original language, did not have to pass in the Senate because both the House and Senate had retained my language in House Bill 1.)
Despite repeated pleas from the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, the Texas Senior Advocacy Coalition and AARP, as well as from a bipartisan group of legislators (including Berman and me), the proposed constitutional amendment never was considered for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee. This effectively killed the measures intended to provide proportionate tax relief and a permanent tax freeze for seniors and people with disabilities.
At any point during the special session's waning days, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker could have impressed upon the Senate Finance Committee chairman the importance of voting out the requisite constitutional amendment. But they chose to not do so.
The votes were there; the necessity was apparent. In the end, 1,181,825 elderly and 146,945 disabled Texans were left out.
For those of you interested in understanding why the Republican leadership pushed so hard for Berman's float-up language and, when my proportionate tax relief and freeze language was substituted, proceeded to kill the proposed constitutional amendment, consider the following:
House Bill 1 requires any increase in school tax rates above 4 cents to go before the voters, so the Berman float-up language would have ensured that there was a built-in constituency to vote against school districts' raising their rates, and would have further limited the ability of districts to exercise local control and raise needed revenues.
Anti-tax guru Grover Norquist loved Berman's float-up language. So did our Republican leadership. That's why the constitutional amendment was killed. That's why more than 1.3 million seniors and people with disabilities will receive little or no property tax relief. State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, represents District 49. He has been a member of the Texas House since 1991 and serves on the Human Services Committee.
The problem I have in this article is it doesn't really explain that the people 'left out' have had their taxes frozen for over a decade, and thus, everyone else's taxes are being brought down close to the level this group (over 65 and disabled) has had for years. This article is deceptive in making a group believe they are being shafted when in reality, that group wasn't harmed by the increased property taxes over the past decade.
This is similar to the left always complaining the bottom 1% doesn't get an income tax cut when the bottom 1% doesn't pay income taxes.
This article is misleading at best, fraud at worst.
I wouldn't expect anything different from my former Senator Elliot Naishtat-Dem.
Oops, make that former Texas House Rep.
Yes, this change is immediate.
I've heard that there's a move afoot from many to make the next campaign contributions to Republicans from property tax savings.
Only school taxes are frozen. Other taxes and appraisals could increase. Property tax relief would be eaten up in two years by increases in appraisals. Current law caps appraisal increases to a maximum of 10% per year, but lowering the cap to 3% or 5% would keep increases at the inflation rate.
The issue though is that appraisals are a function of the local government, not the State. The local legislature/government would have to put the cap on local property taxes.
One of the other reasons it was necessary to shift the major source of funding for schools to something other than property taxes is this "freeze" at age 65, and the upcoming large demographic who will be able to take advantage of it.
You are correct about this silly whining on behalf of seniors. Many of them have their appraisals frozen at 1995 values.
The state has placed the 10% cap on local appraisal districts. And while it is true that appraisals are a local functon, at 10% increase per annum the taxes would double in SEVEN years without any rate increase. Because of appraisal creep, local officials can correctly say they didn't raise your taxes, meaning tax rate, but your tax bill went up 9.8%. Many districts are at or just below the cap. I strongly urge you to go to www.lonestartimes.com and click on the link under TAX REFORM for a tutorial on how to protest your appraisal.
Good, you added the part about protesting. Many people I know just make a habit of always filing a protest - and very often, they have been rewarded for doing so.
ping for later
CITY and local community college property taxes are ALSO frozen for many senior Texans. The Texas Silver Haired Legislature (TSHL) has been going around Texas pursuing this version of "backyard socialism" for two years. (The kids pay for Grandpa's ambulance, fire, police, senior center, library, roads and other services.) The seniors have plenty of breaks already.
List of Texas towns that have frozen CITY property taxes for seniors and disables (on top of the frozen SCHOOL taxes) http://www.netarrantseniors.net/Freeze%20Status%20in%20Tarrant%20County%20&%20Elsewhere.htm
They are working a petition now to get the voters in Fort Worth to agree to a CITY property tax freeze for seniors. Everybody else's taxes will go up to support this plundering of the public treasury by a special interest group.
But where's the justice for a single male with no kids and brand new house? BCAD increased the property value of my house 12% because there will be a new library opening up on the corner. State tax code says they can ony increase it 10%.
I'd like to see an amendment that removes the school tax liability for homeowners with no children.
Waving to you from near your much loved Turkey Shop. I'm catching up on old threads and saw your post. Today I protested my assessed value with much success. For some reason MCAD decided my house was worth about 18% more than the larger homes around me. It was practically painless -- they agreed with me, and one hour in their office will save me about $500 this year. With the new reductions on top of that I'm doing the happy dance.
I'm no tax lover, but society benefits from good schools, and good schools increase your property value whether you use them or not. The homeowners in your childhood neighborhood paid taxes when you were in school to support your education, and now it's your turn. I'm an empty nester, but have no beef with paying school taxes.