AUSTIN, TX — Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 2, by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) on a vote of 18-13.
Senate Bill 2 puts a 3.5-percent rollback trigger on the rate all local government entities, apart from school districts whose rate is 2.5-percent, can raise taxes without triggering an automatic public vote.
The bill will also provide for an exemption for indigent defense costs that impact all counties but disproportionately impact the small rural communities. SB 2 allows for an increase in tax rates only if a county’s indigent defense expenditures exceed the amount of those expenditures for the preceding year.
“Over the past 18 months, I have been listening to my constituents and elected officials with whom I share those same constituents,” state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) said in a media release. “The citizens of Senate District 22 (which includes Ellis County) and Texas have demanded property tax reform, and I believe Senate Bill 2 as passed … will have a significant effect on curtailing the rapid growth in property valuations and rate of growth in property tax bills that is, in its current form, unsustainable.
“SB 2 strengthens voter-approval and provides a balance between both fast-growing, more suburban counties like McLennan and the northern counties that abut the DFW metroplex, as well as the more rural counties in the district,” he said.
Texas is No. 3 in property tax rates across the country. According to the release, Senate Bill 2 puts any yearly property tax increase above the 3.5-percent rollback rate for local government entities and 2.5-percent for school districts to a vote as well as gives voters more control over the rate of growth.
Senate Bill 2 now goes to the House for consideration.