After facing significant pressure to provide some form of property tax relief this year, Texas Republicans have proposed to use just under a fifth of the $16 billion sent to the state in federal COVID aid for property tax relief.
If Senate Bill 1 is passed, 5.7 million homeowners who claim a homestead exemption would receive $525 checks. The projected cost of the proposal is around $3 billion, which would be taken out of the funds sent to the state under the federal $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act aimed at pandemic relief.
Republican lawmakers have faced pressure from the party’s right wing to provide some form of property tax relief this year. Gov. Greg Abbott added property tax relief to the third special session agenda in September — after primary challenger Don Huffines, a former state senator, blasted Abbott for initially leaving it off the table. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, meanwhile, called legislation cutting property taxes his top priority for this special session. Senate Bill 1, which came out of the House on the afternoon on Friday, has been thought to be a roundabout way for legislators of the Republican party to deliver on this issue.
Critics have denounced the proposal as being politically timed ahead of the 2022 fall elections. One version would have checks going out to homeowners by Sept. 1 or “as soon thereafter as practicable.” Others have expressed concern that the proposal overlooks renters, who make up a third of Texans.