AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas.com) - The legislative session may be over, but lawmakers aren't finished yet. Governor Greg Abbott called a special session to focus on property tax relief and human trafficking.
It comes after Republican leaders in the Texas House and Senate failed to pass what is Abbott's top priority this session and one he campaigned on for re-election: property tax relief.
He said special session #1 would focus only on property tax reform and border security. "We must cut property taxes. Texans want and need a path towards eliminating property taxes."
While Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate and House Speaker Dade Phelan couldn't agree how to cut property taxes, lawmakers set aside $17.6 billion of the nearly $33 billion surplus.
The Governor's other priority during this special session is increasing the criminal penalties for smuggling migrants into Texas or operating a stash house.
The regular legislative session ended Monday evening after an afternoon of negotiations over property taxes seemed to go off the rails and instead played out on social media.
The Lt. Governor issued a number of tweets throughout Monday afternoon, blaming Speaker Phelan.
The sticking point was reportedly over the House plan to lower the cap on taxable property value from 10 percent to 8 percent on commercial properties, but Patrick said it would cost taxpayers too much money.
Then using the eyeball emoji, Governor Abbott retweeted a conservative leader who urged lawmakers to use more state money, instead of property taxes, to fund public schools - a process called compression - and suggested legislative leaders take a look.
A short time later, the Lt. Governor issued another tweet concerning Abbott's plans saying that they were unacceptable to the Senate.
Property tax relief is one of seven "emergency items" the Governor laid out during his State of the State address in February. He had six other emergency items but three passed and three failed.
The bills that made it to his desk for signature include:
The school security bill, which will increase funding to harden schools by $1.4 billion, and also require an armed security guard on each public school campus and safety checks of school buildings.
Banning government mandates on Covid-19 masks, vaccines, and business closures and increasing penalties for fentanyl-related overdoses.
Three of his emergency items failed:
Taxpayer-financed Education Savings Accounts, which Democrats and rural Republicans are happy about.
Ending revolving door bail for violent criminals, and a bill that would have created a new border force & increased penalties for smuggling migrants into Texas.
But lawmakers did increase state funding to secure the border from $4 billion to $5.1 billion.
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