To directly answer the Associated Press reporter’s tweet: Van de Putte said, “about 250” Texans were killed in action since 9/11, and as the attached chart using Department of Defense data shows, the number of service members KIA in Fiscal Years 2002-2013 was 588.
(To get her precise quote, watch the video of today’s Senate floor session at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/ and go to 1:26:07.)
Senator Van de Putte’s Senate Bill 163 will (if voters approve in November — see SJR 16, which will put it on the ballot) provide a full property tax exemption to surviving spouses of service members who have been killed in action. In floor discussions, Senators Birdwell and Seliger asked how many Texans would be eligible for this exemption.
In attempting to answer the eligibility question, Van de Putte wanted to make the point that it would probably be a relatively small number. To illustrate this point, she meant to give the number of married service members from Texas who had been killed since 9/11 (presumably the time period that will supply the bulk of these exemptions). Instead, she misspoke and made it sound as though she were talking about the total number Texan service members killed during that period. As you’ll hear on that video, she followed that sentence with a clarifying sentence stating that she meant the 250 to only refer to possible eligibles.
Due to an error by one of her staffers, she was also a bit off on the number of married KIAs — as the chart shows, the number is 310, but when she asked a staffer for the number, she was mistakenly told 250. Nonetheless, her point remains valid: That relative to the overall number of taxable homesteads in Texas, the number of possible exemptions is pretty miniscule.
Office of Senator Leticia Van de Putte, R.Ph.