AUSTIN, TX – December 8, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Texas State Representative Bill Callegari (District 132, Katy) announced the introduction of legislative packages to lower the state’s spending cap and, separately, limit home property tax appraisals.
“Each measure is designed to protect Texas taxpayers,” said Representative Callegari. “Lowering the appraisal cap limits property tax increases, while creating a spending cap prevents uncontrolled government expenditures that taxpayers must pay for. Taken together, these measures advance the conservative platform of lower taxes, and a limit to government growth.”
The first legislative package, consisting of House Bill 312 and House Joint Resolution 39, would lower the home property tax appraisal cap from ten percent to five. Currently, a home’s taxable value may increase as much as ten percent each year. For example, a home appraised at $150,000 in 2005, could reach a taxable value of over $240,000 by year 2010. This appraisal increase would make the home’s 2010 property tax bill over 60 percent higher than it was in 2005.
“Our appraisal system allows for property tax increases that may exceed homeowners’ ability to pay,” said Representative Callegari. “Appraisal creep of this magnitude increases property taxes at a rate greater than the typical paycheck. A five percent appraisal cap, which my legislation proposes, protects taxpayers from these levels of increases.”
The other legislative package introduced by Representative Callegari proposes a constitutional cap on increases in state spending. Currently, the Texas Constitution limits increases in the state’s biennial budget to an amount not to exceed the estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy. Representative Callegari’s legislation, HJR 42 and HB 380, would change this limitation to an amount equal to the state’s rates of population growth and inflation. Under this new spending limit, if Texas experienced a two percent rate of population growth, and a one percent rate of inflation, then the next budget would be limited to a three percent increase over the previous biennium’s.
“These bills provide a clear metric for managing future budget growth,” Representative Callegari explained. “If our population grows along with the consumer price index, so may our budget. Conversely, should our population shrink, or we experience deflation, then our budget cap would be lowered to reflect these phenomena. This spending cap ensures that our budget management appropriately reflects Texas’ size and economy.”
Representative Callegari continued: “The underlying idea behind a spending cap is to limit the size of government. The greater the limit on state spending increases, the less our government may grow. This limitation ultimately protects taxpayers from footing the bill for more governmental program and their associated behemoth bureaucracies.”
In addition to proposing a state spending cap, Representative Callegari’s legislation requires that budget surpluses be refunded to taxpayers or deposited into the state’s rainy day fund. In particular, the legislation directs that half of all surpluses be deposited to the property tax relief fund for reducing school property taxes. The remaining surplus shall be divided between franchise tax rebates, or deposited into the rainy day fund.
“As a fiscal conservative, I do not believe that budget surpluses give license to more government spending,” said Representative Callegari. “Rather, these surpluses should be returned to the taxpayers who paid them, or deposited to the credit of the state’s rainy day fund for use in a fiscal emergency.”
Both the spending limit and appraisal cap measures introduced by Representative Callegari propose to amend the Texas Constitution. If approved by the Texas Legislature in 82nd legislative session, both measures will appear on the constitutional amendment ballot that will be put before voters in November 2011.
Representative Callegari has represented Katy and the west Harris County area in the Texas House of Representatives since his election in year 2000.
Jeremy B. Mazur
By: Rep. Callegari, Bill
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