State lawmaker focused on reimbursements for cities ahead of 88th Legislature

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 6:14 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) - The 88th legislative session begins Tuesday at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. State lawmakers will have to make decisions on over 1,500 bills and counting. They will also have to agree on how to spend a historic $188.2 billion budget.

Rep. Hugh Shine (R-55) told KWTX News 10 he would like to see the state allocate more money to cities affected by a property tax exemption.

Currently under state law, disabled veterans in qualifying cities like Harker Heights and Nolanville can receive a 100% property tax exemption.

“The state needs to reimburse the communities across that have military presence so that they’re not losing that money,” Rep. Shine said. “It’s crucial for fire, police, water and for infrastructure.”

The state’s new district map means he now serves as the voice for Harker Heights and Nolanville residents, two cities that border Fort Hood.

“Those two communities are more adversely affected than any other communities on a percentage and per capita basis,” Rep. Shine said.

But this isn’t the first attempt from state lawmakers to address this. Most recently, Rep. Brad Buckley (R-54) proposed a similar bill at the last legislative session in 2021. Rep. Buckley previously served as the state lawmaker for Nolanville and Harker Heights before the redistricting.

“In 2015, the legislature created a pool of about $19 million, but the real impact is more like $350 million,” Rep. Shine said.

Still, Rep. Shine hopes his version will sway lawmakers this time around.

“Unless you’re an individual that’s not receiving the exemption then they’ll have to increase your property tax rate,” he said. “The state needs to step up. We’re going to make sure the state steps up.”

Rep. Shine said another priority of his is education. He is a joint author on another bill that would fully fund education based on total enrollment instead of daily attendance.