By Alejandro Serrano/The Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott called an immediate special session Monday night, just hours after lawmakers completed the year’s regular legislative session without passing numerous key bills state leaders had identified as priorities.
Abbott said in a statement the special session officially began at 9 p.m. Monday and will be focused on property tax relief and border security. “Many critical items remain that must be passed,” Abbott said, which he asserts will require multiple special sessions.
Republican lawmakers had identified using a large part of the state’s budget surplus to lower property taxes for Texas homeowners and business owners as a priority, but failed to reach an agreement. It appeared lawmakers were expected to return to work Tuesday, which the leaders of both chambers hinted at in closing Monday.
“We must cut property taxes,” Abbott said in the statement. “During the regular session, we added $17.6 billion to cut property taxes. However, the legislature could not agree on how to allocate funds to accomplish this goal. Texans want and need a path towards eliminating property taxes. The best way to do that is to direct property tax reduction dollars to cut school property tax rates.”
The agenda for the first special session will focus on slashing property tax rates “solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate in order to provide lasting property-tax relief,” Abbott said in his statement.
Additionally, the agenda will focus on “increasing or enhancing” penalties for crimes involving smuggling people or operating a stash house.
Only the governor can call a special legislative session. Lawmakers can only pass bills related to the agenda the governor sets.