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Trace: at MMR_Render.Press_Release.Page_Load(Object sender, EventArgs e) Villarreal Pushes Fairness for Homeowners & Students in Pre-Filed Bills - News from Mike - Representative Mike Villarreal - District 123 San Antonio

Villarreal Pushes Fairness for Homeowners & Students in Pre-Filed Bills

Monday, November 10, 2008

November 10, 2008                                   

Villarreal Pushes Fairness for Homeowners & Students in Pre-Filed Bills

First Day of Pre-Filing State Legislation Highlights Policy Priorities

Austin - On the first day to pre-file legislation for the 81st session of the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Villarreal filed four measures to provide a more level playing field for homeowners paying property taxes and for students at risk of starting school behind their peers.

House Bill 133 would require property owners to disclose their real estate sales prices to the local appraisal district. Appraisers currently have access to ample information about working class and middle class homes. In Bexar County, for example, over 95 percent of homes under $300,000 are listed in the Multiple Listing Service. But appraisers do not have access to that information for high-end and commercial properties that operate in the shadow market. As a result, appraisals and tax bills for million-dollar homes and business properties are often artificially low, leaving middle-income homeowners to make up the difference.

"Fighting for fair treatment for all homeowners continues to be one of my top priorities this legislative session," explained Rep. Villarreal.

House Bill 134 and House Joint Resolution 22 would make several additional appraisal reforms. They would establish a state Office of Property Appraisal to ensure that Central Appraisal Districts use appropriate appraisal procedures.  The legislation would also improve the appraisal appeals process, ensure that homes are valued on their residential value rather than speculative value, and make additional reforms to protect homeowners.

Rep. Villarreal stated, "We must have a fair, transparent and reliable way to fund our children's education and other public investments."

House Bill 136 would expand public notification and outreach efforts to enroll additional eligible children in public school pre-k programs.  The Texas Education Agency would collaborate with local school districts and other state agencies that work with low-income families.  Four-year-olds are currently eligible for pre-k if they live in a low-income family, don't speak English, have been in foster care, or have a parent on active duty in the military.  Yet, many parents do not enroll their children because they are unaware that they qualify for public pre-k.

"Unfortunately, many children are already falling behind at age four, and may never catch up. Fortunately, we have seen that a year in quality pre-k can put them on track to thrive in elementary school," noted Rep. Villarreal. "I believe all children can learn and succeed in school, especially when we target our investments in the early years."