Restrain, reform, rein in, restrict and limit are not synonyms for the word Texas property taxpayers crave: cut. This is an alert: Your property taxes will not be falling, in spite of all the talk about easing property taxes that is emanating from the Texas Capitol. State lawmakers can’t make property tax rates come down. They’ve tried. It didn’t make rates come down. And even trying is expensive: It would cost the state just under $2.5 billion to replace a dime’s worth of local school property taxes; that is, to lower the property tax rate by ten cents. On a $250,000 home, that would amount to overall savings of about $20 per month in property taxes. view article arw

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick made it clear during their inauguration ceremony this week: state leaders intend to make changes to the property tax systems in Texas. "We already knew in our heart and our soul what people wanted us to do, but we heard it loudly and clearly, and that was reform property taxes so they could live in their homes and own their own businesses," Patrick said Tuesday during his inaugural address after being sworn in for his second term. "This session, we must finally rein in skyrocketing property taxes in Texas," Abbott said during his speech on a chilly January morning. view article arw

 A tax attorney defended her company’s track record of collecting unpaid taxes to White Oak trustees Monday, touting her statewide firm as more aggressive and effective at delivering revenue for the Roughnecks. “We’re not the largest firm that does this, but bigger doesn’t always mean better,” Liz Bonn, of the firm McCreary Veselka Bragg & Allen, told the school board near the end of a presentation in which she mentioned “our competitor” several times but never by name. view article arw

As he prepares to be sworn in for a second term Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott is focused intently on two big goals — restraining property tax increases and improving the way Texas funds its public schools. Abbott acknowledges that he and other newly re-elected Republicans who control the Texas Capitol will be trying to thread a political needle this session: Yes, the state needs to ramp up its financial contributions to schools to ease upward pressure on Texas homeowners' and businesses' property-tax bills, they concede. view article arw

Frisco ISD voters approved a tax ratification election and a $691 million bond in November. The bond will be used to pay for a number of projects, including new schools, maintenance projects and facility expansions. The election also increased the property tax rate for maintenance and operations by $0.13 per $100 valuation. The Frisco ISD board of trustees then decreased the interest and sinking tax rate by $0.15. This tax swap resulted in a combined tax rate of $1.44 per $100 valuation, $0.02 lower than the 2017-18 tax rate. The boost to maintenance and operations is expected to increase teacher salaries and reduce class sizes, among other things. view article arw

AUSTIN — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is predicting 8 percent growth in the state’s tax collections over the next two years, giving hope to lawmakers eager to tackle high-cost plans to reform school finance and offer property tax relief. But Hegar called the forecast “cloudy” and warned that uncertainty in trade policy and rising interest rates could affect state revenues. view article arw

At a time when legislators are vowing to spend more money on public schools and slow the growth of Texans’ property tax bills, the state should have enough money at its disposal to do just that. That is, if its newest predictions hold true. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Monday offered a cautiously optimistic outlook for the Texas economy, telling lawmakers they will have about 8.1 percent more state funds available to budget for public programs — primarily schools, highways and health care — in 2020 and 2021. Hegar projected there would be about $119.1 billion in state funds available for the next two-year budget, up from $110.2 in the last two-year budget. view article arw

Texas should have the best public school system money can buy. Why expect less? This is Texas. We're Texans. Texans think big.  But Texans also are realists. They know our state government has been thinking small about public education for too long. How long? Try since 1993. That was the last time the state made a serious stab at funding schools fairly and adequately, and came up with the current system known as Robin Hood because it redistributes some of rich school districts' funds to poorer districts. view article arw

Gibbons Creek Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant about 20 miles from Bryan near College Station, put the state’s grid operator on notice that the plant will not operate this summer. The closure reduces the state’s already tight power reserves and is sparking forecasts of higher electricity prices. view article arw

Texas’ top financial official says heightened economic “uncertainty” from rising interest rates to unsettled trade policy is clouding the spending picture for state lawmakers who return to the Capitol this week. view article arw

The Real Cost of a 2.5% Cap

January 0807:01 AM

$30 Billion over 10 years. Do I have your attention? Good, now keep reading. Texas Governor Greg Abbott put forth a Property Tax Policy on January 16th, 2018, that will get a lot of attention in the new 86th Legislative session. You can read an article about it here, or you can read the full policy proposal here. The element I’m going to focus on is the cap on property tax revenue growth.  Abbott wants to limit the revenue that a city, county or school district can collect from property taxes to an increase of 2.5% year-over-year. This isn’t a cap on what you, the individual, might be assessed or have to pay (which is how Governor Abbott seems to be pitching things on Twitter). view article arw

In response to the article (“Isle leaders worry tax cap might hamper growth, recovery,” The Daily News, Jan. 1): Texas’ school funding system is puzzling; this makes it hard to understand who pays what. Let’s unpack how the system works. In 1979, the state merged all property appraisals under one authority by creating central appraisal districts, or CADs. view article arw

Texas lawmakers will have nearly $9 billion more in general-purpose state revenue in writing the next two-year budget, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Monday. "The economy has been extremely robust," Hegar said, issuing his revenue estimate for the 2020-2021 cycle. But the Republican chief tax collector warned that lawmakers will have to plug holes in the current budget they passed in 2017 before they start applying some of the additional $8.9 billion of general revenue to new initiatives. He mentioned IOUs in the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, state costs for Hurricane Harvey and other unfunded liabilities. Hegar also said that while the Texas economy "will continue to outpace" that of other states, he sees a "cloudy" fiscal picture. "The U.S. and global economies are uncertain and any slowdown will affect Texas," he said. view article arw

The boxes are being unpacked in Austin this weekend as lawmakers from across the state descend on the Capitol to gavel in the 86th Texas legislative session on Tuesday. This ritual occurs every two years, same as it did in 1993 — when Democrat Ann Richards was in the Governor’s Mansion, Democrat Bob Bullock reigned over the Texas Senate, the House Speaker was Democrat Pete Laney and George W. Bush, a Republican, owned the Texas Rangers. view article arw

AUSTIN — Mary Nethery used to complain when the yearly property tax bill hit $5,000 for her 1,900-square-foot home in San Antonio. Now it’s pushing $9,000.  In recent years, Nethery and other homeowners have shouldered an increasing burden for funding public schools in Texas, where property taxes climbed to the sixth-highest in the nation. view article arw

Tarrant County Judge Glenn Whitley made waves talking about the state’s role in rising property taxes earlier this year. Armed with hard numbers and hard truths about the state’s school finance system, he put a renewed focus on how Texas funds education.  view article arw

The Carthage ISD school board approved a tax limitation agreement Monday for a proposed natural gas processing plant. Under the terms of the deal, TECO Gas Processing will pay taxes on $30 million worth of its property, as opposed to the plant’s full value, for a set period of time and will provide other supplemental payments to Carthage ISD that will average out to about $250,000 a year — as well as any legal and financial reporting costs. view article arw

Paradise could soon see a new housing development in the city. At last Thursday’s meeting, the Paradise School Board heard information about the proposed development, which would be located in the area of Honeysuckle and Pecan streets. Superintendent Paul Uttley said the new housing development by FX5 Construction is proposed to include 60 homes in two phases. view article arw

Apple Inc.’s new $1 billion investment in Williamson County could bring almost $20 million annually to the Williamson County taxing entities of the Northwest Austin development. An incentive agreement up for vote next week could lower a portion of what the county receives. The project, announced early in the morning Dec. 13, is slated to bring 5,000 additional jobs and make Apple the largest employer in the Austin metro area. view article arw

Beckville ISD is considering a tax ratification election some time next year — going to the voters to ask for a tax increase on their maintenance and operations side of the budget.  “We’ve been struggling with this the last couple years,” Superintendent Devin Tate said at Monday’s school board meeting. “We know that there’s a short fall of revenue, and then the state has continued to pull back and pull back, and gone down to like around 37, 38 percent for the typical school funding, and so money’s got to come from somewhere. view article arw

WHEREAS, I, GREG ABBOTT, Governor of the State of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on August 23, 2017, certifying that Hurricane Harvey posed a threat of imminent disaster for Aransas, Austin, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Waller, Wharton and Wilson counties; and view article arw

With the additional funds expected through Frisco ISD’s tax ratification election, the district is adding 80 new positions as well as investing in new technology and adding a classroom supplies stipend. FISD board of trustees approved amending the 2018-19 budget during the Dec. 10 meeting to allow for the additional expenses. view article arw

Limiting property tax hikes is sexy. Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty warned that local officials will have to contend with the appeal of restricting property tax increases as they prepared Wednesday to fight Gov. Greg Abbott’s property tax revenue cap proposal and to have their voices heard in the debate over how to improve Texas’ troubled school finance system when the Legislature meets next year. view article arw

A state commission created to suggest fixes to how the state funds public education has instead focused on reining in property taxes — including a plan by Gov. Greg Abbott — without identifying how to pay for the idea, let alone grow the overall pot of money for public schools. Property tax and state revenue primarily fund the state’s public schools, which serve 5.4 million students. The Texas Commission on Public School Finance, created by the Legislature last year, has for months been listening to input from district officials, state leaders and analysts. It is slated to issue recommendations by the end of the month. view article arw

The largest copper tubing manufacturer in the world has started an application to open business in Sealy. The Hailiang Group, founded in China, has already expanded to the U.S. and provides national support for sales, customer service, manufacturing and regional distribution locations. Now, they are looking to set up shop in this neck of the woods and representatives came to the most recent school board meeting to begin that process. view article arw

The Texas Legislature’s strong allergy to tax increases might be abating — just as long as you don’t call them tax increases. They’re not saying so out loud — no point in riling up a price-sensitive electorate before the holidays, before the upcoming legislative session — or before lawmakers are ready to make their sales pitch. But the talk of school finance as a top legislative priority guarantees a conversation about taxes. While there are many great policy reasons to mess with that persistent and gnarly issue, the political motivation here is simple: Texas property owners have made it clear to their representatives that they want lower property taxes. view article arw

A French energy company that boasts wind power projects in Brazil, India, Norway and Kansas has set its sights just outside Mart, a one-stoplight town 20 miles from Waco. Where wind turbines may soon stand on a property straddled by Farm-to-Market Road 939 and JPM Road, 2 miles away from Mart’s city center, tall native grasses blew in the wind as Mayor Len Williams, also the interim superintendent of Mart Independent School District, described Engie North America Inc.’s proposed Prairie Hill Wind Farm project as a breath of fresh air to the community of 2,000 people, and to the school district’s tax base. If the sustainable energy project receives final approval from state and local agencies, along with Engie investors, 300 wind turbines will be constructed across 52,000 acres in McLennan and Limestone Counties. view article arw

Local governments have not been properly notifying homeowners of their expected property tax increases since 1978, disregarding a requirement of the Texas Constitution, an academic researcher told lawmakers on Wednesday.   For decades, Texas has required appraisal notices that include an “estimate of tax due,” but the notices are both too confusing and not accurate enough to comply with the state constitution, said tax expert Jennifer Rabb, director and fellow of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth at Rice University. For decades, Texas has required appraisal notices that include an “estimate of tax due,” but the notices are both too confusing and not accurate enough to comply with the state constitution, said tax expert Jennifer Rabb, director and fellow of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth at Rice University. view article arw

The 300 megawatt Sage Draw Wind farm — which is selling electricity to Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) under a power purchase agreement with the farm’s owner, Denmark-based Ørsted — is set to draw $22.56 million in tax incentives over the course of 10 years. The $206.5 million facility is covered by tax incentive agreements with government entities in the area of the farm, including a $14.76 million Chapter 313 agreement with Southland Independent School District near Lubbock, Texas, according to documents published by the Texas comptroller Nov. 9. view article arw

PORT ARANSAS — To the east, the Gulf of Mexico stretches out, blue-green and sparkling. To the west and north, flounder and trout meander in a chain of bays. People flock here to fish. Others come to this beach town near Corpus Christi to kayak, parasail or admire the hundreds of bird species on the barrier island, which is deep into rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey damaged or destroyed 85 percent of the buildings here last year.  A perfect location, from a certain point of view, to put not one but two crude-oil export terminals for ships so big they’re called supertankers. view article arw

Better pay for teachers, improved school safety, and a petrochemical boom were hot topics at a luncheon held at Brazosport College on Wednesday. Brazosport ISD Superintendent Danny Massey and Economic Development Alliance for Brazoria County President Gary Basinger spoke during the State of the Community Luncheon at the Dow Academic Center at Brazosport College. view article arw

Texas lawmakers looking for enough money to rebalance the state’s school finance system face an obstacle course: the state’s property taxes are the sixth-highest in the country as a percentage of property values, sales tax rates are 12th-highest, and the absence of a state income tax is so dear to Texans that politicians haven’t had a serious conversation about it for more than a quarter century. Perhaps there’s another place to look: Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued his annual estimate of the value of taxes that Texans do not pay because of various tax breaks. His office has a lot of different descriptions of tax breaks; the report “estimates the value of each exemption, exclusion, discount, deduction, special accounting method, credit, refund and special appraisal available to payers of Texas’ sales, motor vehicle sales, franchise, oil production and gasoline taxes, as well as property taxes levied by Texas school districts.” view article arw

Early voting opens for Garrison ISD

November 2708:40 AM

Early voting in a Dec. 15 Garrison ISD tax rollback election begins Wednesday.  Due to a loss of state funding, the rural school district has faced budget deficits in recent years — and this year is looking at a shortfall of $515,000, GISD documents state.  The current Garrison ISD total tax rate is $1.1065 per $100 of property value. The tax ratification election set Dec. 15 is seeking voter approval to increase that by approximately 6 cents to $1.17 per $100 of valuation. view article arw

For the first time in a long time, the Texas Legislature is given a good shot in the coming session of increasing funding for public education, which could lead to an end in the upward spiral of residential property taxes, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. In the last three sessions, the Republican-dominated Legislature, trying to stress its conservative credentials, has cut state aid to education funding.  That achieves two GOP enable Republicans to claim to be 'holding the line' on higher education spending, and to enable more funding to be diverted to charter and private schools. But the result, according to Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods, has been to push that spending responsibility down to local property owners. view article arw

The oil and gas sector worldwide lost about $1 trillion in value during a 40-day period that began in early early October and culminated last week with a record 12th straight day of oil price declines — including the worst single-day drop in three years. Crude prices in New York commodity markets slid more that 25 percent during that period, from a recent peak above $76 a barrel to less than $56, and took oil and gas stock prices with them. Energy stocks included in the S&P 500 Index shed nearly $240 billion in value during those 40 days view article arw