Constitutional Amendments for Texas 1-3

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
By Felicia Cravens

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.

 

PROPOSITION 1


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.

 

 

PROPOSITION 2

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.

 

 

PROPOSITION 3

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 - AGAINSTAs 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.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Constitutional Amendments for Texas 1-3”

  1. Prop 1 should be voted against because there’s no means testing besides the fact that you’re a spouse of a disabled vet. It automatically assumes that you and the vet are dirt poor and need this exemption. This is just as silly as Warren Buffet getting a social security check. On the other two props, they don’t affect Texas’ bottom line because they are self sustaining. The only reason to vote no is on the principle that 1. government shouldn’t be involved in allocating resources and 2. government shouldn’t be in the business of giving student loans. However, a “NO” vote won’t change the fact that the government will still do those things, only at lower dollar amounts (which still won’t affect Texas’ bottom line because both programs are self sustaining). Just my two cents.

    #21373
  2. Don Tharpe

    Prop 1 should be voted for because veterans continue to have their benefits erodeed by federal authorites. A volunteer member of the military who enlisted to help defend this country against the likes of people who brought down the World Trade Center and then lost limbs in direct defense of this country should be exempt from the tax bill of $3-4000 per year. Especially when you see that greater than 50% of that amount is being used to illegally fund school district coffers.

    Compare that $4K with the 6 Billion which Mr. Stutts believes should be allowed to be collected in taxes because of bonds being issued without voters consent. This is a direct large governmnet support tactic. As long as municipalities are allowed to collect multibillions in taxes from bonds, property taxes will continue to be a burden on all of us, whether we served or not, whether we have arms and legs or not.

    Proposition 2 should not be approved because this goes to taxation without knowing specifically where these funds are going or how they are being managed. These bond payments will be charged to the citizenery through increased property taxes. There isn’t enought information to support an additional 6 billion in added property taxes.

    I believe proposition 3 should be passed. without having a vehicle to provide funding to enter college in the first place, America’s role on the international stage as leaders in scientific, medical, mathmatic and engineering leadearship will continue to slide and continually add to the economic instability America finds itself in today. Instead of not allowing those college seed funds, this should be an ammendment to place additional pressure on collecting the debts from those who are not paying back their student loans.

    #21580