Voters will be going to the polls around the state today to cast ballots on the state constitutional amendments; they’ll also be casting ballots on numerous local issues, including a $200 million Montgomery County road bond referendum.
The Courier has a nice breakdown of the issues and its editorial stances here and here.
I’m headed to the polls, and here’s how I’m going to vote on the road bond and the constitutional amendments:
County road bond election - YES
There is no doubt the county needs to fund road improvements to keep up with its continued growth. Typically, the county has done this through road bond elections, with the last being 2005. On average, the county has a road bond election about every three to four years.
This referendum contains numerous projects for all parts of the county, such as improving and widening Walden Road near Lake Conroe, widening Honea-Egypt Road and McCaleb Road, widening Budde Road and Nursery Road in south Montgomery County, and extending League Line road to the Lone Star Executive Airport.
PROPOSITION 1 – YES
Proposition 1 authorizes the Texas Legislature to provide an exemption from property taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran. The burden of defending this country falls on a small number of military personnel and their families who endure great hardship in the call of duty. They earned this exemption.
PROPOSITION 2 – YES
Proposition 2 provides for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board up to $6 billion at any time without having to go before voters for approval. The state would be able to continue issuing new bonds to fund water projects as previous bonds are retired without having to go back to voters. Water is a critical issue for the state, especially in the midst of a severe drought; the bonds would fund a wide variety of projects, including water resource development, water quality and flood control. The state is protected because the debt is paid back by the local entity that receives the loan.
PROPOSITION 3 – NO
Proposition 3 would provide for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students. It would authorize The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue and sell more general obligation bonds as needed to pay for more financial loans to students. Unlike Proposition 2 – where at least voters at the local level can question the use of state loans for water infrastructure, Proposition 3 gives a blank check to the coordinating board. In addition, I believe the easy availability of student loans has contributed to soaring enrollments and tuition inflation. This is a power that should be reserved to voters.
PROPOSITION 4 – NO
This proposition would give the legislature the power to permit a county to “issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area.” In short, the state proposes giving counties the same power that cities have. However, counties already have economic development tools, such as tax abatements, that should suffice. Also, groups such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility fear that this proposition could open the door for “Kelo”-style property seizures for the purposes of economic development. Certainly, we don’t need to encourage any movement toward such policies.
PROPOSITION 5 – YES
Proposition 5 would allow cities and counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund. In short, this would make it easier for cities and counties to consolidate projects or services and reduce duplication, which would save tax dollars. Cutting a little red tape to encourage greater efficiency is a worthwhile move.
PROPOSITION 6 -- NO
Proposition 6 would allow the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.
This is a bad idea; it opens the door to eroding the principal of the permanent school fund. The state needs to find other ways to fund public education rather than weakening a permanent source of funding.
PROPOSITION 7 -- NO
The constitutional amendment would allow for the creation of more taxing districts in West Texas. It would authorize the Legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County; those districts would levy property taxes to issue bonds to fund development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities. These responsibilities already fall under county government and should be supported by existing county property taxes; it is up to counties to manage their budgets wisely to accommodate these needs.
PROPOSITION 8 - YES
Proposition 8 would allow land currently used for farming, ranching, wildlife management or logging to be developed for water conservation without changing its tax status. The exemption would not apply to land that is not already eligible under existing uses. Water conservation is an appropriate state policy goal; it makes sense to permit exemptions to encourage it.
PROPOSITION 9 - YES
This constitutional amendment would authorize the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision and against whom charges are then dropped. Currently, the governor can extend pardons only to those who have been found guilty of a crime; the amendment would extend the power to pardon to cover deferred adjudications. It is a reasonable extension of the governor’s pardon power.
PROPOSITION 10 – YES
This constitutional amendment would change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders. Currently they must resign if they announce their intention to run for another post with more than a year left in their current term. The amendment would permit them to remain in their post if they announce with less than one year and 30 days remaining in their term. It is designed to adjust for new federal filing dates enacted to permit more time for the delivery of ballots to the military and others overseas.
Subscribe to CommentsComment