“Ridiculous” Numbers on Revenue Caps

This week, Politifact Texas dealt yet another blow to the argument that revenue caps provide meaningful property tax relief.  Politifact’s analysis was focused on the truthfulness of a revenue cap proponent’s statement that revenue cap legislation would “save the average homeowner in Texas $20,000 a year over the next 20 years or so.” Staff later claimed that what was meant was $20,000 cumulatively over the next 20 years.

Politifact concluded that the statement was not only false, but “ridiculous.” The statement earned the label of “Pants on Fire,” which is reserved for only the most outrageously false claims. According to the article, even the revised statement about cumulative savings contained “major flaws” and is “at best, a wild guess.”

Using faulty data is nothing new for proponents of revenue caps. As reported in a previous issue of the Legislative Update, the Dallas Morning News recently picked apart the foundation upon which the supposed need for revenue caps was built – namely that local property taxes have increased three times faster than median household income. Citing an independent economist who called the comparison “worse than meaningless,” the article also included an objective comparison using federal data showing that median household income has actually outpaced the median property tax bill in Texas. 

For many years, the League and its members have refuted the false property tax relief claims of revenue cap supporters. Independent observers are finally recognizing revenue caps for what they are: a false promise of meaningful tax relief, promoted for political purposes, that would limit the ability of cities to provide essential services to their residents.

With only four days left in the 85th Legislative Session, property tax reform is still front and center. Last weekend, the House voted to include numerous property tax transparency measures that were present in the House’s version of S.B. 2 in a new vehicle—S.B. 669 by Senator Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound). Notably absent was any form of a revenue cap, which did not have adequate support amongst members of the House Ways and Means committee or House Calendars committee. S.B. 669 now goes back to the Senate, where the Senate can either concur with the House version of the bill, or choose not to concur, forcing a conference committee negotiation and possibly opening the door to revenue caps once again. 

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League. 

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