Gov. Abbott makes case for property tax cuts, business courts, other priorities in Arlington speech
Gov. Greg Abbott told Arlington business owners and members of the Greater Chamber of Commerce Wednesday that he wants to keep Texas at the top of competition for new businesses.
The third-term governor listed priorities for the state's 88th Legislature, which include providing property tax relief, creating a court system dedicated to business litigation and reform regulatory services.
Abbott said the changes will keep Texas competitive against other states including New York, Arizona, Tennessee and Georgia.
"Anybody who suggests that we don't need economic development tools is wrong," Abbott said. "We're losing projects, not just to states that we should easily beat like New York, but other states have built very effective educational development tools."
Proposed Texas House and Senate budgets call for $15 billion of the state's surplus—roughly half—to go towards property tax relief. Additionally, Abbott said he'd like the state to use its Property Tax Reduction Fund to buy down school district property taxes, which account for the largest part of taxpayers' bills.
"With that school property tax eliminated, your property tax bill would be cut in two-thirds or three-fourths," Abbott said.
Abbott did not make himself available for questions from reporters.
Top legislators have hit back at Abbott's plan to spend the surplus, according to the Texas Tribune. Both House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick expressed concerns about spending the surplus on property tax cuts, while Democratic legislators have called for a pay raise for teachers.
Abbott said he'd also propose a $100,000 property tax exemption for business personal property.
He is also interested in creating business litigation courts. He called the court system in Texas a "travesty of justice."
"Our court system, especially in our large cities, is a travesty of justice, and it is running businesses out of the State of Texas," he said.
Lawmakers proposed establishing the system in 2021, but the bill did not pass.
He also announced his office will in the next couple of weeks release a $100 billion plan for transportation infrastructure, which will include funds dedicated towards interstates 35, 30, 20, 635 and 820.
Abbott said he's watched the state's population grow from 10 million during his youth to 30 million now.
He also complimented Arlington leaders past and present for the development and proliferation of the city's entertainment district. The area in north Arlington is slated to welcome a new luxury apartment complex and the National Medal of Honor Museum. Choctaw Stadium, formerly known as Globe Life Park, welcomed two long-awaited businesses in February with the opening of Spark coworking and the XFL Opening Weekend.
"It was a dream to really see a different Arlington, to create a different Arlington and to make it the centerpiece of the DFW area—quite literally," Abbott said.
Michael Jacobson, chamber of commerce president and CEO, said Abbott and the chamber's goals are aligned in economic development.
"We appreciate his commitment to the growth of Arlington and appreciate all of his efforts to help make Arlington the destination for sports and entertainment," Jacobson said.
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