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Beto O'Rourke rejects governor's property tax relief efforts, spending on education

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas (left), and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images; Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas (left), and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a stop in San Antonio on Thursday touted his property tax relief plan and his record on education spending, drawing a quick response from Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

The Republican Abbott, during a speech to members at the Asian American Alliance of San Antonio luncheon, said he wanted to use half of the state's $27 billion dollar surplus to offer Texans property tax relief.

The Beto campaign in a statement to Texas Public Radio said:

"Greg Abbott has had eight years to lower property taxes with his party controlling every level of government in this state, yet he has failed to help Texans who are being priced out," said O'Rourke. "Under his leadership, property taxes have only gotten worse, skyrocketing by 40% or $20 billion dollars since he took office," the statement read.

Abbott also told the alliance he has spent more on public education and teacher pay than any other governor in the history of Texas.

"This has led to some incredible results," Abbott said of his spending on schools. "One is that this year Texas was recognized as having more blue-ribbon schools than any other state in the United States of America"

Abbott also said Texas has one of the lowest high school drop-out rates in the country.

But O'Rourke said Texas classrooms are underfunded by $4,000 per student. The campaign said teachers are leaving their jobs in droves as they are underpaid by $7,500 compared to the national average and retired teachers have not seen a cost-of-living adjustment in nearly two decades.

He said he will use $13 billion dollars of surplus to fully fund education, pay teachers better, expand mental health services, and fix the state's failing power grid.

O'Rourke also said he would lower property taxes by buying them down by increasing the state's share of school funding. He said he would also ensure wealthy corporations pay their fair share to reduce the burden on homeowners and small businesses.