State Rep. Carl Tepper talks property taxes, school safety in first town hall

Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock State Representative Carl Tepper hosted his first town hall as a state lawmaker Thursday evening in Shallowater, discussing property tax reform and fielding questions about school safety.

While many things are still left on the legislative floors, Tepper began with what he believes went right this session. He mentioned the state budget, bills passed to curb fentanyl, more money for public education and infrastructure.

He then moved on to what hasn’t been handled - property tax reform.

“I’m a little embarrassed to say that it’s been, I think Charles [Perry] and I would have had a deal negotiated four weeks ago and we’d be off on our summer vacations and doing more town halls,” Tepper said.

He says strong personalities in both chambers and the governor’s office are keeping a deal from happening. The Senate is pushing to increase the homestead exemption to $100,000, but Tepper is against the plan.

He says there are a lot of homes in Texas that don’t cost $100,000 and that those homeowners end up not paying anything.

“Everyone needs to have some skin in the game to ensure that the burden isn’t disproportionately placed on people who are having to pay,” he said.

State Senator Charles Perry, who joined Tepper in the hot seat, says he’s optimistic property tax relief will pass next week. Tepper says it will happen, but he’s not as sold on the timeline.

The two lawmakers were grilled over teacher pay raises, which got paired with school vouchers, failing to pass.

“How can we not stand up and fight for these teachers and coaches and administrators?” a man at the town hall questioned Tepper.

Tepper says he has been fighting and strongly believes raises are on the way.

“I share Senator Perry’s optimism that there will be school district raises all across the board, especially including teachers. I don’t share his optimism that it’ll be done beginning of August,” Tepper said.

Tepper is for school choice for parents, but doesn’t believe it will change the public education system much, if at all.

“But, it would be an option for some parents to have some sort of a relief valve to let them go do what they want to do with their children,” he said.

Many of the town hall questions surrounded school security. Tepper says several bills that passed will make a difference.

“We will be hardening these schools, they will have panic buttons, they will have armed security on these campuses,” Tepper said.

Tepper stressed that much of school safety has to do with mental health, by getting resources and care to children who could end up hurting others.