Andrew Murr
Andrew Murr

AUSTIN, TX – State Representative Andrew Murr’s (R-Junction) House Bill 297 was passed by the Texas House by a vote of 95 to 46 Thursday, May 9.

The bill would abolish school district maintenance and operations (M&O) property taxes by January 1, 2022. On average across the state, school M&O taxes account for more than 50% of all property taxes. It is also the part of the property tax that is subject to recapture, otherwise known as “Robin Hood.” The legislation will end the process of recapture as we know it, and cut the average property tax bill nearly in half.

“Too often, our elected officials pay lip service to the idea of property tax relief without offering any meaningful solutions,” said Rep. Murr following the vote. “Today’s vote on this important legislation is takes direct aim at the problem of skyrocketing property tax bills. I commend Speaker Bonnen and the 95 other members, both Democrats and Republicans, who stood up for property owners today. And I implore the Texas Senate to take up and pass this legislation as well.”

The driving force behind rising property taxes in Texas is the school finance system. While a statewide property tax is prohibited by the Texas Constitution, local school districts rely upon local property taxes to help fund public education. According to the Texas Education Agency, those local taxes now account for over 60% of the cost of funding public schools, with the state paying for less than 40%.

In the place of M&O taxes, House Bill 297 would require legislators to find another source of funding, such as a consumption tax, to replace the revenue. By transitioning to a broader tax base from other sources, the state can better meet its’ obligation to provide for the public education of our children, while also reducing the burden on home owners and property taxpayers.

House Bill 297 is structured to be revenue neutral and ensure there is no reduction in funding for pubic schools. Enrichment spending by school districts would also be unaffected and remain at the discretion of local school districts, maintaining local control over a small amount of discretionary revenue.

“While Texas is generally viewed as a low-tax state, the dirty little secret is that our property tax rates are among the highest in the nation. In fact, it’s only places like New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut who have higher rates than ours. Slashing the property tax will provide tangible incentives for out-of-state businesses to re-locate to Texas and for existing businesses to expand and create new jobs.” remarked Rep. Murr. “It will give families greater opportunities for home ownership, while also protecting existing homeowners, particularly those on fixed-incomes, from skyrocketing appraisals and crippling tax bills.

Murr added, “People have been complaining about Robin Hood for as long as I can remember, but until today we have not had the political will to actually solve the problem. By passing this legislation, the Texas House has said that enough is enough. We will no longer saddle property owners with an unjust tax system that punishes them for owning their little piece of Texas.”

House Bill 297 now moves to the Texas Senate. If passed by the Senate, it will go to Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed into law.