Members of the Texas House sent a powerful message Tuesday when they voted 141-0 to cut the state sales tax.
The measure faces one more House vote before it goes to the Senate. A clash is anticipated there because senators want to cut property taxes instead of the sales tax.
The House has it right.
Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, put it well: “Today the House voted to provide all Texans with tax relief that encourages job creation and economic growth.”
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Emphasis goes on the “all Texans” part. House Bill 31, by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would trim the state’s portion of the sales tax to 5.95 percent from the current 6.25 percent.
That won’t draw a lot of attention per transaction, but for both consumers and businesses it’s worth $2.6 billion over two years.
The Senate’s property tax cut for homeowners, about $2.4 billion, won’t be very noticeable either. And, as Bonnen pointed out, it could be negated by local property tax hikes or by rising appraisals.
But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has stood fast for property tax relief, not sales tax relief. With Straus and the House now on the opposite tack, there’s quite a gulf between them.