Attorney General Ken Paxton announced a victory for Texas homeowners after the Gregg County Court granted all relief requested by the attorney general in the local option homestead exemption case involving Kilgore ISD’s violation of Texas Senate Bill 1. The decision by the Gregg County Court comes nearly two months after the Texarkana Court of Appeals affirmed the right of Attorney General Paxton to continue the lawsuit and pursue compliance with the law.
“I am grateful to the court for recognizing this school district’s attempt to siphon money away from Texas homeowners without their vote or consent,” Attorney General Paxton said. “My office will continue to fight local governments that ignore laws they do not like. We will continue to stand up for homeowners in these districts and voters across the state.”
The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 1 in May 2015 with near universal support, and 86 percent of voters ratified the amendment in the same year, marking one of the highest amendment margins in recent history. Because the Legislature paid for the tax breaks in the state budget, the law provided a property tax reduction to homesteaders in Texas with no downside to school districts. Nevertheless, some school districts chose to reduce or repeal their local option homestead exemption and assess homeowners a tax rate that violated the law.
Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who authored the bill, said: “Senate Bill 1 clearly stated that the tax relief approved by the Legislature was over and above any local option homestead exemption. Implementation of the law needs to be uniformly enforced across the state.”
Twenty school districts throughout Texas reduced or repealed their local option homestead exemptions in 2015: Dumas, Kilgore, White Deer, Bridge City, Broaddus, Christoval, Daingerfield-Lone Star, Excelsior, Groesbeck, Gruver, Hardin-Jefferson, High Island, Kountze, Lexington, Mount Pleasant, Riviera, Shepherd, Spurger, Veribest, and Winfield. Attorney General Paxton joined similar litigation against the Dumas ISD and White Deer ISD, and will continue efforts to ensure that all school districts comply with the voters’ will.