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AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas Senate has approved a plan designed to slow the increase of local property taxes as Republicans scramble to deliver on fiscally conservative promises despite a state budget crunch.

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Tuesday’s 18-12 vote sends to the state House a bill by Houston Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt requiring local governments to seek voter approval via special elections when raising property taxes by at least 5 percent.

The current cap triggers elections on increases of 8 percent or more. Statewide, more than half of all property taxes collected go to funding public schools.

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Local governments oppose the bill as legislative overreach, which may hurt it in the House.

Slumping oil prices have left Texas potentially $6 billion short of the funding needed to maintain current spending levels, making tax cuts especially contentious.

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