AUSTIN, Texas - Members of the Texas Senate returned from their Tuesday recess. They did not to throw in the towel on debating a property tax cut deal and kept this one-sided Special Session essentially on life support.
The return Friday included only some staff and featured President Pro Tem Sen. Charles Schwertner, not Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, with the Chamber’s gavel. Sen. Bryan Hughes presented the motion to recess until next Tuesday.
About an hour later, Gov. Greg Abbott was at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He also refused to declare the tax cut debate was dead. Abbott remained optimistic a deal will get done, but he had to acknowledge the stalemate under the Capitol dome.
"We may be here a while," said Gov. Abbott at the TPPF event.
Abbott has already declared support for the House plan, with it’s across-the-board tax cap. He believes the idea will eventually lead to the elimination of all property taxes in Texas.
"We must go big. We must dream big. Dream the possibility that we can eliminate property taxes in Texas. You got to dream it and then you got to do it," said Abbott.
Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was on the same stage promoting the Senate’s plan. It reportedly proves a bigger payback by being focused more on expanding the homestead exemption.
"I can't imagine the governor will say to 5.7 million homeowners. You're not going to get. A homeowner's exemption," said Patrick during his Tuesday visit to the TPPF.
On social media, Patrick continued to argue the governor's idea would cause a big sales tax hike and is not realistic. In response on Friday, Abbott did not directly name the Lt. Governor, but described those who did not agree with him as "doubters." Abbott told the TPPF Gathering the doubters fail to consider the growing Texas economy, and he believes it’s strong enough to support the switch to a consumer driven budget.
"What's going to happen with those savings?" said Abbott. "People are going to go out and buy more things where they're paying more sales taxes. None of those things have been put into the calculus of what should be put in there. But there's another factor. Something I know that TPP believes in. I believe pretty much everybody in this room believes in. Texas can and must find additional ways to cut spending wherever we can."
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The governor said the process has been like a round of golf. A few years ago, Abbott said they were on the Tee Box and now they are on the putting Green. As of Friday, at the Capitol, the process, according to political analysts, was all about preparing for a Special Session reboot.
"That'll probably occur at some point in the next few weeks, and then they'll have another chance to come to a consensual agreement and provide a property tax relief that they agree Texans deserve," said Mark Jones with Rice University.
Special Session 1 may technically be over, but lawmakers were still filing Bills. Some pertaining to the Call, while others were on topics like gun control.
"So they're trying to put a lot of things out there maybe for Special Session 2 that they could use to make some compromise deals," said Brian Smith with St. Edwards University.
The governor said he plans to call a Special Session to deal with his school choice idea. Before that happens, the Governor said he wants the tax cut deal done.