Constitutional Amendments for Texas 1-3
There are ten propositions for Constitutional Amendments on the Texas ballot this November, and we’re going to try to provide analysis and, where appropriate, make a recommendation.
BALLOT LANGUAGE: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem 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.”
TRANSLATION: Veterans who are totally disabled in Texas get a homestead property tax exemption as the law now stands. This proposition will extend those benefits to the surviving spouses.
THE DETAILS: Spouses of disabled veterans currently lose the exemption on the death of their spouse, potentially worsening a difficult financial situation. The proposition would also allow the exemption to follow the spouse to a new homestead, should the spouse move. HOWEVER, the exemption would remain even if the spouse subsequently remarries, a flaw in the proposition as written, but apparently not yet a material one.
RECOMMENDED VOTE – FOR, with the recommendation to revisit the issue in the next legislative session to terminate the exemption upon remarriage of the spouse.
BALLOT LANGUAGE: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”
TRANSLATION: The Texas Water Development Board wants authority to issue up to $6 billion in bonds without having to go back to the voters repeatedly to authorize bond indebtedness. The state would like authority to continue to issue new bonds as old ones are retired without taking the issue back to the voters.
THE DETAILS: The Water Development Board finances water projects in Texas, like flood control or water quality. They also provide the matching funds for federal grants related to these types of projects. At present, voters have authorized $4.3 billion in bonds over the years, but the TWDB wants to be allowed to issue up to $6 billion without returning to the voters for approval. So if they retired $1 billion in bonds, they want to be able to issue $1billion more in new debt without going to voters.
RECOMMENDED VOTE – AGAINST – Voters should be able to approve debt, especially long-term debt such as these bonds, in most instances. All manner of debt at all levels of government should receive closer scrutiny, and no “autopilot” debt models should be approved.
BALLOT LANGUAGE: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.”
TRANSLATION: The state wants to be able to continue issuing bonds to finance student loans under the Hinson-Hazlewood student loan program without returning to the voters every 4-6 years. Presently voters are asked to approve bonds when demand increases for student loans.
THE DETAILS: Texas subsidizes student loans, which are repaid through student loan repayments from the students. The argument again is that the state would like authority to continue to issue new bonds as old ones are retired without returning to the voters for approval. So if they retired $250 million in bonds, they want the authority to issue a new $250 million without going back to the voters, effectively staying in debt.
RECOMMENDED VOTE - AGAINST – As with Proposition 2, voters should be able to approve debt, especially long-term debt such as these bonds, in most instances. All manner of debt at all levels of government should receive closer scrutiny, and no “autopilot” debt models should be approved.