By\u00a0Joshua Fechter\r\nTexas voters will decide next year whether homeowners will get a trim in their property tax bills after lawmakers rammed through a proposed constitutional amendment through both chambers shortly after it was first proposed Monday evening.\r\nThe measure would raise the state\u2019s homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for school district property taxes, netting the average homeowner about $176 in savings on their annual property tax bill, according to Houston Republican Sen.\u00a0Paul Bettencourt, the proposal\u2019s author.\r\nThe new proposal \u2014 which would cost the state more than $600 million annually if voters approve it at the May ballot box \u2014 emerged seemingly out of nowhere hours before the end of the third special legislative session. With the two chambers unable to reach an agreement on the Senate\u2019s priority bill to reduce property tax rates, Texas lawmakers started from scratch on new legislation intended to lower homeowners\u2019 property tax bills through an expansion of school district homestead exemptions.\r\nSenate lawmakers fast-tracked the proposal immediately after it was filed Monday evening. In the span of less than an hour, the bill sailed through a key committee and wound up back on the Senate floor where it passed unanimously \u2014 all before the text of the legislation became publicly available and without an opportunity for public comment.\r\nJust after 11 p.m., the House unanimously voted to stick the matter on the May ballot.\r\nThe tax relief will be paid for in the first year out of the state\u2019s $4.4 billion surplus, Bettencourt said. But it wasn\u2019t immediately clear how the state would pay for the tax cut in the future.\r\n\u201cPeople see the need for property tax relief, and Texans are going to cry out for that continuously,\u201d Bettencourt said on the Senate floor. \u201cThis is a great way to bring that home to all of the taxpayers of Texas.\u201d\r\nBettencourt\u2019s property tax proposal \u2014 normally a pet issue for Texas conservatives \u2014 won support from the chamber\u2019s Democrats.\r\n\u201cDo you know that this is probably the best bill that's come out of what is otherwise a bad legislative session?\u201d state Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat, asked Bettencourt on the floor.\r\nThe 11th-hour mad dash came as the House and the Senate had not yet produced a final compromise of the Senate\u2019s priority property tax legislation \u2014 a $2 billion tax-cut bill that would temporarily reduce school property taxes and net the average Texas homeowner about $200 in savings on their tax bill next year.\r\nThat bill, also authored by Bettencourt and deemed a top priority of Lt. Gov.\u00a0Dan Patrick, got a substantial overhaul in the House, where lawmakers completely gutted and reworked the bill to instead send $525 checks to homeowners \u2014 paid for with $3 billion out of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill intended for pandemic relief.\r\nThat idea made it out of the House \u2014 but garnered criticism for excluding renters and perhaps skirting a federal rule that bans the use of stimulus dollars for tax cuts.\r\nCassi Pollock contributed to this report. This story originally published by the Texas Tribune.