EDITORIAL/Dueling Legislation: Rarely pays to bet against Patrick

Will property tax relief emerge from this session of the Texas Legislature?

Quite possibly. If lawmakers can agree on how to get it done.

Just about everyone at the capitol agrees Texans should get a break on the state's high property taxes. And there are several competing ideas. The Legislature will have to decide on one to put before the voters as a constitutional amendment.

The one that appears to have the best shot is Senate Bill 3, which would raise the state's Homestead Exemption from the current $40,000 to $70.000. That extra $30,000 excluded from taxation would save homeowners an average pf nearly $350 a year.

Elderly and disabled Texans already receive an extra $10,000 exemption on top of the current $40,000. SB3 would increases that to $30,000, bringing the total exemption, should SB3 become law, to $100,000 for seniors and the disabled.

A companion bill, SB4, aims to make up revenue lost by school districts through the property tax relief, with the state kicking in $5.4 billion. And SB5 would give some tax relief to businesses.

It's a pretty straightforward proposal. And it is backed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, so it's state Senate approval is a pretty safe bet.

Over in the House, they have a different idea. HB2 would limit how much a home's value can increase each year for tax purposes. The current appraisal cap is 10%. HB2 would lower that to 5%.

Patrick once supported lowering the appraisal cap, but now says it's not the right solution.

"We learned, we listened, that they (lower appraisal caps) didn't work, and we developed this plan," He said at a news conference Tuesday.

So which bill will be put before voters? When it comes to the Legislature, it's seldom wise to bet against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick getting his way.

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