AUSTIN, Texas — The House Committee on Ways and Means held a public hearing Wednesday to get feedback on House Bill 2 (HB2), which aims to slow the growth of property taxes.
HB2 would reduce how much cities, counties, schools and other taxing entities from eight percent to two-and-a-half percent. This would apply to all taxing entities that collect more than $15 million in tax revenue. Under the bill, if an entity wants to increase the tax rate by more than two-and-a-half percent, it would automatically trigger an election.
Currently, if the tax rate is increased by more than eight percent, voters have the option to petition for an election. An election doesn't automatically happen.
More than 130 people signed up to testify on the bill, including many city and county leaders, who say the bill would leave them hamstrung.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt told KVUE unlike cities, counties don't get sales tax revenue from the state, so property taxes make up 80 percent of the county's budget.
"Basically, all of what we do is a mandate. And most of it is underfunded and in some cases unfunded," Eckhardt said. "So, cut our only revenue source or our predominant revenue source, we will be able to do the services the state requires that we do on its behalf."
Those services include civil and criminal courts, indigent defense and the jail that is also used by the city and emergency services.
Still, the bill is a top priority for Governor Greg Abbott.
The matching bill filed in the Senate, Senate Bill 2, was amended and voted out of the Senate Property Tax Committee two weeks ago.
The mayors of two dozen cities sent a letter to State Rep. Dustin Burrows, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, asking to create a working group to find solutions to some of their concerns.
While many city and county leaders oppose the bill, a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found 77 percent of Texas voters support the idea.
The committee is not expected to take action on the bill Wednesday.