CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The deadline to pay property taxes came and went earlier this week, and it has many Texans wondering about the prospect of property tax relief.
It's something that has been a priority among lawmakers in the current legislative session in Austin.
With more than 60 percent of Texans owning the residences they live in, getting a significant property tax break is understandably a popular proposal.
However, none of this would be a big talker without the nearly $33 billion budget surplus lawmakers are trying to spend. Governor Greg Abbott wants to use at least half of that money to reduce the tax burden for property owners.
Some of his fellow Republicans, however, said that spending that much now could put the state in a difficult position. Lawmakers would have to find a way to pay for it in future budgets, when there may not be extra money.
Right now, Texans pay the seventh highest property taxes in the nation, and political reporter Jason Whitely told 3NEWS that both sides of the aisle realize that there is an opportunity here.
"There are a few ideas actually on the table. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick wants to increase the amount of the homestead exemption, how much you can automatically deduct," he said. "It went from $25,000 to $40,000. He's talking about raising it to $70,000 right now, which would actually lower our property taxes and the amount that we physically pay each year."
Democrats have their own ideas about what to do with the extra money, including a $15,000 pay raise for teachers.
That would cost about $12 billion over the next two years.
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