Member Login

Forgot Password?
Need Login?

You are here: Home > News & Events > News > Lawmakers stake early…
Welcome, guest: Login to your account

Lawmakers stake early claim in pre-filed legislation

 - Flurry of tax relief bills amidst burgeoning revenues

Bill filing for the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature began in earnest less than a week after the General Election, with 443 bills filed by week's end well exceeding the 309 bills filed during the same time in 2012. With state revenues blowing past the official estimates by outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs, tax relief figures large in the measures filed to date.

Already, nearly two dozen proposals addressing various aspects of the property tax system have been introduced. They include constitutional amendments to increase the homestead exemption and lower the appraisal cap on residential property. Because property taxes are levied by local jurisdictions, not the state, any reduction in property tax revenue will hit schools, parks, streets and other core government services that most people rely upon. And the push for property tax relief for residential property only worries business groups opposed to a "split-roll" system in which business property is taxed at a higher rate.

The state's main business tax, a modified gross receipts tax pushed through the Legislature by Gov. Rick Perry in 2004, continues to be the least popular levy, already attracting five bills that would repeal the tax in its entirety.  One measure, SB 134 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Round Rock, would increase the small business exemption from the current $1 million to $5 million, exempting 80,000 business from the tax. If successful, only 60,000 of the state's one million liability protected entities would pay the tax, according to the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.

"Many criticize the federal income tax because half the people do not pay it, but if the Schwertner bill passes, only six percent of formally registered Texas businesses would be subject to the franchise tax," said TTARA President Dale Craymer.

"Simply exempting more businesses from the franchise tax does nothing to improve the tax, and only makes it less fair."

Transportation-related taxes also garnered a good bit of attention during the first week of bill-filing, with most focusing on ending diversions than increasing taxes or revenues. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, laid an early marker on ending road fund diversions last summer, later echoed by winning candidates for statewide office and a slew of House and Senate members.
Taxes will be just one of the major public policy issues addressed in TAB's 2015 Legislative Conference in Austin on Monday, Jan. 26.  Station owners, GMs and news directors should plan to attend.  The event includes TAB's Lawmaker/Broadcaster luncheon where lawmakers are seated with their constituent broadcasters; no speeches are allowed during the lunch.

More information…

Questions?  Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

« Back to News Archive
« Back to Latest News