Texas House 'gave the bird' to homeowners by refusing to negotiate property tax plan, Lt. Gov. Patrick said

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick let it be known to all on Tuesday that he will not back down when it comes to the Senate's property tax plan

Patrick said he cannot negotiate with an empty House and called for the lawmakers in that chamber to return to Austin. In a press conference Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accused House lawmakers of abandoning Texas homeowners by not staying to negotiate property tax relief.

"They didn’t give the bird to the Texas senate, they gave the bird to 5.7M homeowners and said, 'Take it or leave it,'" Patrick said.

Last week, after the special session was gaveled in, the House rejected the Senate's bill to increase the homestead exemption, passed their own version that would drive down tax rates, and left town. Gov. Greg Abbott says he supports the House plan. 


Gov. Abbott admits it may take more than one special session to pass property tax relief

When Gov. Abbott called lawmakers back to Austin, he wanted them to pass a bill on property tax relief. On Friday, the governor acknowledged that an agreement may be tough to come by.

Patrick says the Governor is wrong on this one, by favoring a plan that creates bigger breaks for property-rich homeowners over what Patrick considers a more equal offering from the Senate.

"If you live in a million-dollar house, you get a $100,000 exemption. If you live in a $100,000 house, you get a $100,000 exemption. Their plan of all compression, the higher-priced house you live in, the more you get," said Lt. Gov. Patrick.

The tax debate has elevated the ongoing feud between the Lt. Governor and House Speaker Dade Phelan. While Patrick has not called for Phelan to step down as Speaker, he has questioned his leadership when it comes to getting bills passed.

Phelan's team issued a statement about Lt. Gov. Patrick's comments:

"The Texas Senate is the only chamber that has not passed property tax reform and border security legislation in a way that is germane to Governor Abbott’s special session call. The House has passed the largest property tax cut in state history three times this year. In the special session, the House came to work, passed its bills with bipartisan support, and adjourned -- the Senate is keeping Texans waiting. We encourage the Senate to follow the House’s lead so that Texans can have the property tax relief and the secure border they deserve."

It is just the latest example of the back and forth between the leaders of the Texas House and Senate.

"In many sessions, Republicans have had the luxury of blaming Democrats for their failures to pass certain pieces of legislation, but the failure to pass property tax relief rests 100% with Texas Republicans," said Mark Jones, a political scientist from Rice University.

Jones and others who have analyzed both plans say the House version is temporary and the Senate plan would save Texans more money.

What the Lieutenant Governor is trying to do is implement property tax exemptions as part of the homestead exemption, an increase that would provide long-lasting benefits in addition to some of the compression that the House and Governor are trying to propose, which would be more temporary."

At a bill signing Governor Abbott was asked about the standoff between the House and Senate.


Texas House, Senate push competing plans to rein in rising property taxes

Experts say while the two proposals would save the average Texans about the same in taxes each year, they would have drastically different consequences.

"We are going to stay focused on this until a solution is reached. I will call special session, after special session until a solution is reached," Gov. Abbott responded.

Patrick said this is the first time he and Governor Abbott have publicly disagreed on a topic.

The Lieutenant Governor says recent tweets from Abbott show he supports eventually ending all property tax. Patrick called that a fantasy.

"I don’t blame it on the Governor. He's either getting very bad information from his staff or very bad information from someone on the outside," said Patrick.

Despite some tweets saying his property tax plan puts Texas on the pathway to "eliminating" property taxes, Gov. Abbott says he didn't mean doing away with all property tax.

"My focus as well as the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other organizations has been on eliminating the maintenance and operation school district tax, which is the largest part of property tax in the state of Texas," he said.

The Senate will be back at work on Tuesday night, but there is no expectation that they will take up the House tax bill.