From staff reports
Governor Greg Abbott today announced a legislative special session that will begin on July 18. In his announcement, Gov. Abbott identified 20 items that will be included on the special session call.
“Considering all the successes of the 85th legislative session, we should not be where we are today,” said Gov. Abbott.
“A special session was entirely avoidable, and there was plenty of time for the legislature to forge compromises to avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session. As governor, if I am going to call a special session, I intend to make it count.”
Gov. Abbott announced that he was calling the special session to address issues that were not resolved during the 85th Legislative Session.
Among the items included in Gov. Abbott’s call are property tax reform and relief for Texans. The special session will last for thirty days.
“Texans need property tax reform right now,” said Gov. Abbott. “If we are going to come together and work this summer at taxpayers expense, then let us work on relieving Texas homeowners from out of control property taxes.”
Gov. Abbott listed a total of nineteen additional items that will be added to the special session agenda as soon as sunset legislation, needed to keep agencies like the Texas Medical Board open, is passed out of the Texas Senate.
In addition to property taxes, other agenda items include legislation to increase teacher salaries, provide school choice for students with disabilities, examine ideas to reform the school finance system, keep state and local budget growth to population growth and inflation, and many others.
“Taxpayers know the truth, property tax bills are rising too quickly,” said Senator Paul Bettencourt. “As appraised values go up, tax rates needs need to come down. I look forward to passing Senate Bill 2 as filed, including the rate rollback provisions, to bring about needed property tax reform and relief for all Texas taxpayers.”
In a prepared statement, Bettencourt stated that data shows widespread support for limiting the extent to which local governments can raise their property taxes, a concept similar to the rollback idea that the Texas Senate passed in their version of SB 2. 7 percent of overall voters supported that idea, with 88 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats, and 76 percent of Independents backing the proposal. Senate Bill 2 was based on over fifty hours of testimony, from hearings in seven cities throughout the State of Texas. “I am planning on tuning up Senate Bill 2 to make it better, and will be ready to file it,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.
President of Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan, offered his support of the governor’s decision.
“Texans insist on substantive property tax reform, and Gov. Abbott has answered their call,” said Sullivan. “The Senate fought for taxpayers this spring, but the House leadership refused to listen. Hopefully, for the sake of the state’s economy, if nothing else, the House’s obstructionist leadership will stand down so the property tax reform Texans so desperately need and want can finally be passed.”
Sullivan praised Gov. Abbott’s inclusion of 18 other pro-taxpayer reforms, such as state and local spending limits, once critical agency sunset legislation is passed.
Americans for Prosperity-Texas State Director Jerome Greener also praised Gov. Abbott on his decision to reconvene legislators.
“Our activists thank Gov. Abbott for his leadership in calling a special session focused on important conservative priorities. The Governor was right to recognize these issues cannot wait another two years. Whether it is giving local control of property taxes back to hard-working Texans or empowering parents with the decision rights to customize their kids’ education, the special session is an incredible opportunity to better the lives of tens of thousands of Texans. We will be encouraging lawmakers not to let this opportunity go to waste. In addition, we will always encourage our Texas lawmakers to pursue the elimination of the franchise tax subsequently creating up to 130,000 net new jobs.”
Special session agenda items will include:
- Sunset legislation
- Teacher pay increase of $1,000
- Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
- School finance reform commission
- School choice for special needs students
- Property tax reform
- Caps on state and local spending
- Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
- Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
- Speeding up local government permitting process
- Municipal annexation reform
- Texting while driving preemption
- Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
- Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
- Pro-life insurance reform
- Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
- Extending maternal mortality task force