You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Proposition 1 would shave $122 off the typical Austin tax bill

Homeowners in the Austin school district could see a $122 annual cut in property taxes if voters statewide approve Proposition 1 on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The election to create a state constitutional amendment would increase the residence homestead exemption for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000. The update, if approved, would mark the first change to the exemption since it was raised in 1997 from $5,000 to $15,000. Statewide, the average savings would be about $126, according to the Texas Legislative Council, which provides nonpartisan support to the Legislature.

Early voting begins Monday.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound and chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, told the American-Statesman this week that the bump is long overdue.

“Homeowners need a break,” Nelson said. “The state is providing the relief, so the state needs to cover the costs.”

Cutting property taxes was a priority of many GOP leaders, notably Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate.

Voters across the state are likely to approve the proposition, but Austin voters might be especially motivated to vote in favor. The owner of a median-valued home in Austin would otherwise see a $242 increase on their 2015 bills.

The proposition also would prevent other taxing entities from cutting other exemptions. Across the state, many cities, counties and other property tax collectors offer exemptions of at least $5,000 or 20 percent of a home’s value.

In Austin, there is a $70,000 exemption for elderly and disabled people and a 6 percent regular exemption for owner-occupied homes. Travis County also has exemptions.

Currently, about 60 percent of Texans’ property taxes go to public education. But even if Proposition 1 amends the state constitution, nothing will change for school funding, said Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The state will make up the difference — about $650 million a year — with money that was already allocated, she said.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based nonprofit that advocates for low- and middle-income Texans, supports Proposition 1.

While the group all along favored raising the exemption by a flat amount to offer more relief to poor Texans, it unsuccessfully argued that the Legislature first should restore pre-recession funding to schools and other services before cutting taxes.

“Before you cut taxes, we should get back to, at least, what we used to spend” before 2008, Castro said.

The homestead exemption boost was part of a $3.8 billion compromise tax cut package that also cuts the business franchise or “margins tax” by 25 percent.

State Sen. Kevin Eltife, a retiring Republican from Tyler, was the only lawmaker in his party to oppose the homestead exemption change.

“I think we need meaningful property tax relief,” he told the Statesman, adding that homeowners won’t see a significant benefit if Proposition 1 passes because of the relatively small boost and rising property values that will largely negate the higher exemption. “I am afraid they are going to be disappointed,” he said.

The key to more significant property tax relief is to find a new stream of revenue for public education, such as sales taxes or real estate transfer taxes, he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Shirtless man brandishing knives threatens Michigan restaurant patrons
Shirtless man brandishing knives threatens Michigan restaurant patrons

A man walked into a Michigan restaurant Tuesday, waving knives at customers and ordering them to leave, WJBK reported. >> Read more trending news The 26-year-old man walked into the Mexican Fiesta restaurant in Dearborn Heights and threatened customers, witnesses told WJBK. "He was really loud, and excuse my language, (he said) everybody...
83-year old allegedly steals ambulance, drives home
83-year old allegedly steals ambulance, drives home

An 83-year-old New York man checked himself out of a hospital in the middle of the night Tuesday and then allegedly stole an ambulance to get home, WNBC reported. Donald Winkler of Merrick reportedly was unhappy with the treatment he had received after being admitted to Nassau University Medical Center last week, so at 1 a.m. Tuesday he checked...
More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else
More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else

A new study suggests that millennials in South Florida live with their parents at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. >> Read more trending news  The study conducted by Abodo found that 44.8 percent of millennials in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area still live with their parents. That’s the highest percentage...
Fire destroys North Dakota church owned by white supremacist 
Fire destroys North Dakota church owned by white supremacist 

A North Dakota church recently bought by a self-proclaimed white supremacist has burned to the ground, KVRR reported. >> Read more trending news  The Attorney General’s office said there isn’t any new information to release, but Craig Cobb said he knows the fire was set intentionally and believes it was a hate crime. &ldquo...
15% of UT women report being raped, Capitol hearing reveals
15% of UT women report being raped, Capitol hearing reveals

A survey of University of Texas undergraduates found that 15 percent of women reported being raped while enrolled at the Austin campus. The survey result, revealed Thursday during a Capitol hearing on four bills to address what was described as an “epidemic” of sexual assaults on college campuses, jolted several senators and brought promises...
More Stories