Texans are struggling with high property taxes, soaring prices, and stagnant income. As a result, most big-budget players favor some property tax relief. For instance, Gov. Greg Abbot declared his intention to use half of the actual surplus fund ($16.3 billion) for this initiative. Likewise, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick revealed that property tax relief is his first legislative priority.
However, the economic outlook for 2023 is not encouraging. The IMF has announced a slowdown in the global economy, and a third of the world’s economy is expected to be in a recession in 2023. Moreover, the consensus among large financial institutions is that the U.S. will have a recession this year.
Consequently, in such a bloomy scenario, caution is warranted on how to use Texas surplus funds prudently. Based on previous data, the Foundation finds that Texas has enough funds to use toward property tax relief, even in the worst-case scenario. Our three key findings are:
Considering that the State’s finances are robust enough to face a recession, the Foundation has proposed a path toward completely eliminating school districts’ maintenance and operations property taxes by using state surplus general revenue-related (GRR) funds to buy them down over time to zero.
By following the spending limit of population plus inflation, assigning at least half of the current surplus and 90% of the future surplus thereafter, we should expect the elimination of school district M&O property taxes over the next decade. In case of any revenue shortfall, school districts could cover it with their reserve funds.
By gradually replacing property taxes with more efficient sales taxes, more Texans would be able to boost their savings, afford a new home, and preserve their property while improving their ability to afford housing and other necessities.
Originally published at TPPF.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.