Republican priorities on school choice and border security have failed to find compromise in the Texas House and Senate, leading to the expiration of key bills. Governor Greg Abbott’s push for a school choice measure, allowing parents to use taxpayer dollars for private school tuition, did not pass. Additionally, property tax cuts for homeowners missed deadlines, but lawmakers are working on a last-minute deal. However, rushed agreements and suspended rules allowed the passage of legislation related to the electric grid and economic incentives for companies.
Lawmakers attempted to reach a late-night compromise on property taxes but failed to do so before the House adjourned without a deal. The possibility of a deal on the last day of the session remains, but it would be highly unusual. Despite the lack of progress on taxes, the regular session has seen conservative victories on social issues, such as the passage of a bill banning diversity, equity, and inclusion offices on public college campuses and a measure prohibiting puberty blockers and hormone treatments for transgender children.
The failure of the “school choice” bill and the border security bill highlights the division between the House and Senate. House Bill 100, which aimed to fund private school tuition, was met with resistance due to concerns about diverting funds from public schools. Likewise, the GOP’s immigration bill, which sought to create a new state border police force, failed due to disagreements over provisions related to immigration-related offenses and border crossings.
Notably, the inability to reach a deal on property tax savings would be embarrassing for legislators, considering the state’s budget surplus. Governor Abbott had emphasized property tax cuts as a priority and promised to allocate half of the surplus for tax cuts. Disagreements centered on proposals to tighten the cap on annual increases in a home’s taxable value and extending benefits to owners of business properties. The chambers also differed on proposals to increase the state’s homestead exemption and provide tax credits for businesses.
While some bills failed, others were rescued through last-minute negotiations and suspended rules. Legislation related to the electric grid and economic incentives for companies passed with wide margins. These compromises addressed issues left unresolved by the expiration of the Chapter 313 program, which offered school property tax abatements but faced criticism for creating inequities and corporate welfare.
In conclusion, while some Republican priorities on school choice and border security failed to find compromise, late-night agreements and suspended rules allowed for the passage of legislation on the electric grid and economic incentives. The fate of property tax cuts remains uncertain, and the regular session concludes with conservative victories on social issues but unresolved disagreements on pocketbook priorities.