Gov. Greg Abbott doubles down on property tax fight against Lt. Gov Dan Patrick

In response to continued objections from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday doubled down on his property tax relief plan and warned state lawmakers to buckle in for multiple special legislative sessions not only to pass tax reform but also so-called school choice legislation.

Abbott made the comments in a post-regular legislative session discussion hosted Friday by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. As the chat began at noon, reporters received text messages from a phone number seemingly associated with Patrick that railed against Abbott’s tax rate compression proposal and shared a link to a Houston Chronicle story with favorable remarks about Patrick's plan.

The bickering between the state's top two Republicans has led to a stalemate in the Legislature on how to deliver more than $17 billion in property tax relief, with Abbott threatening to call special sessions until the Senate approves a proposal he prefers, and Patrick, the Senate’s president, showing no signs of caving.

“I can’t tell you when property taxes are going to be resolved,” Abbott said in a response to an audience question.

Abbott, speaking nearly uninterrupted for 30 minutes to a mostly conservative audience, stuck to his talking points on core Republican issues, and answered only a few questions from moderator Greg Sindelar, head of the policy foundation.

Abbott, silent during the regular session on property tax relief specifics, gave his blessing to a Texas Public Policy Foundation proposal to lower tax rates now with the intention of eventually ending them altogether. His plan's first phase breezed through the House, which quickly passed it Tuesday on the first full day of an Abbott-called special session. But, with Patrick firmly against it, the Senate is in no hurry to consider the proposal.

On Friday, the upper chamber quickly gaveled in and then adjourned until Tuesday without a vote on the House tax plan.

Property taxes and migrant smuggling are the only items Abbott included for this special session, which can last up to 30 days.

Patrick, steadfast in his push for a higher homestead exemption, said Abbott’s tax compression plan favors businesses and high earners. He called the long-term vision to eliminate state property taxes “not realistic” in a Thursday tweet. For that to happen, he said, the local sales tax must more than double to 19%.

“Whenever sales taxes underperform, property taxes will immediately go back up,” Patrick tweeted.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he hopes to eventually eliminate property taxes.

While not directly mentioning Patrick, Abbott addressed “doubters,” and presented a vision to reduce the overall tax burden through the state adding more residents through booming population growth and more tax-paying businesses.

"Texans want to own their own property, not rent it from government," Abbott said.

Once lawmakers resolve their differences on taxes, Abbott said he’ll call a second special session on another major priority: school choice. The concept, which diverts public money to private education, drew resistance in the regular session from Democrats and many Republicans who fear it will hurt enrollment in public schools and weaken athletics and other extracurricular activities. The Senate passed it; the House did not.

Abbott, however, spoke as if passing school choice legislation is a foregone conclusion.

“I will never relent. I will never give up,” he said. “We will have a special session coming up after we get property tax reform fixed where we'll dive into and work on and pass school choice in the state of Texas.”

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks Friday with Texas Public Policy Foundation Chief Executive Officer Greg Sindelar. Abbott said he would call another legislative special session to push for his plan to use taxpayer money to help students pay for private school.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Greg Abbott doubles down on property tax fight against Dan Patrick