At the Speaker conference panel discussion on school finance, Sen. Dan Patrick said he would have a bill next Session that replaces the maintenance and operation (M&O) portion of the school property tax with a increase in the sales tax of 2 to 3 cents.  Patrick noted the school property tax brings in a total of $21 billion, with $16 billion of that amount used for M&O.  Every 1 cent increase in sales tax raises approximately $3 billion.  Patrick is also proposing removing one third of all sales tax exemptions – these combined would replace the $16 billion. He also suggested a different sales tax rate for some items that could be taxed at a lower rate than 6.5%.  An exemption for people below the poverty line could be offered by giving those individuals a credit on their Lone Star cards, declared Patrick.  He believes this approach would lower the average property tax bill by 40% and give homeowners big savings.  Others on the panel seemed to be in agreement with this approach.