One of the final acts of the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature was the negotiation of SJR 2, a measure that, if approved by voters in May, would increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 beginning with the 2022 tax year. Property taxes have been a perennial source of griping, especially in areas of Texas experiencing rapid population growth, rapidly rising home values, and the corresponding increase in property tax bills. Of course, as policy makers have been frequently reminded during the long real estate boom in Texas, in Texas’ growth obsessed but revenue-constricted political economy, efforts to reduce property taxes enough for voters’ to actually feel the effects of legislative action are severely constrained.
While the primary driver of that constraint is fiscal, another major constraint is public opinion. A decade of polling on property taxes illustrate that many voters notice those rising property tax bills, but are likely to be unimpressed with what ultimately amounts to legislative tinkering in efforts to validate some sort of claim that the incumbent government is addressing voters’ concerns.