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Endorsement watch: The state propositions

There are seven constitutional amendments awaiting your vote on the November ballot. The Chron evaluates them.

Constitution

Proposition 1

The amendment would boost homestead exemption amounts for school district property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000. It also would reduce the amount of taxes that could be levied on the homesteads of elderly and disabled Texans and would prevent public officials from reducing or eliminating already-approved property tax exemptions. In addition, it would keep the state from charging a transfer tax on the sale of the property.

Proposition 2

This amendment extends the property-tax exemption for spouses of deceased veterans who were 100 percent disabled. Voters approved a similar exemption in 2011, but that one applied only to spouses of veterans who died on or after Jan. 1, 2010. The current proposal eliminates the date restriction.

Proposition 3

This proposal would repeal the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.

Proposition 4

This proposal authorizes the Legislature to permit professional sports teams to raise money through raffles during games for charity.

Proposition 5

This amendment would authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance, raising the population cap from the current 5,000.

Proposition 6

This amendment “recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation” is the most ridiculous on the ballot.

Proposition 7

In an effort to address the state’s huge transportation needs, this amendment would require the Texas comptroller each year to dedicate the first $2.5 billion of vehicle sales use and rental taxes to the General Revenue Fund, dedicate the next $2.5 billion to the State Highway Fund and split between the two funds all revenue above that. The plan will generate an estimated $3 billion per year by 2020.

Not much to go on there, I admit. VoteTexas has the full statement of each amendment, and public radio station KUT in Austin has been doing a series of reports on each proposition; they’ve done one through five as of yesterday, so check back again later for the last two. The Chron opposes numbers 3 and 6 and supports the others. I’m “not just no but HELL NO” to those two, I’m leaning No on one and seven, and I’m fine with #s 2, 4, and 5. Kevin Barton argued against Prop 7 a few days ago. If you know of any good arguments for or against any of these, leave a link in the comments.

One side note: Proposition 1, which is basically a tax cut (and significant spending increase, not that anyone in our Republican leadership would ever admit to that), has an actual campaign behind it, as it is considered a top priority for the real estate industry and the Texas Association of Business. As such, I received a pro-Prop 1 mailer at home last week. You may note that the HERO referendum is also called Proposition 1. It’s City Proposition 1, whereas this is State Proposition 1, and it appears at the end of the ballot while the tax cut referendum is up front, but they’re both still Proposition 1. I can’t help but think that a few people will be moved to vote for the latter on the belief that they are voting for the former, or at least something related to the former. I can’t imagine there will be many people like this, but the number is surely greater than zero. Given that, I suppose it’s a good thing that the city lost its fight to word the referendum in such a way that a No vote was a vote in favor of HERO. So thanks, Andy Taylor, for seeing through the Mayor’s nefarious ploy and ensuring that this little bit of luck would favor the pro-HERO side. I’ll be sure to drink an elitist craft beer, served with quinoa chips and organic, locally sourced salsa, in your honor.

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5 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    I can live with prop 1, it does have the benefit of forcing the State to provide more funds to schools to pay for the increased exemption.

    2, 4, and 5 are worth approving, there aren’t any real reasons not to vote for them.

    7, I am unsure of

    I don’t see why there would be any objections to prop 6. The PETA types do not spend one dime on wildlife conservation, and actively try to stop hunting and fishing at every opportunity. I wonder what “legitimate conservation efforts” the Chron thinks are being “harried and harrassed” by the black helicopter crowd. Given the lack of predators in the State, hunting is the only real means of controlling the populations of deer and hogs.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Prop. 1 Yes….This aids all Texas homeowners.
    Prop. 2 No….This puts more burden on every other taxpayer.
    Prop. 3 No….We are voting for people to work, which doesn’t mean “phoning it in.” Sometimes, you just have to be there.
    Prop. 4 No….As a Libertarian, my instinct is to say yes, but I totally disagree with this byzantine, random approach to things. Just legalize all gambling, and get it over with. I’m tired of little tiddly wink fixes, when one simple repeal of the prohibition on gambling, period, would solve the problem. Casinos, 8-liners in convenience stores, dice games….the whole lot of it should no longer be considered a crime in Texas.
    Prop. 5 Yes….I don’t know which rural county wants this, but if someplace out in Nowhere, Texas wants to use their own money to build roads, I say great, why is this not legal already?
    Prop. 6 No….I support hunting and fishing, but this is a feel good proposition that accomplishes nothing. Why not a proposition that Texas supports the right of puppies and kittens to be cute? Frankly, it’s embarrassing that something like this might be enshrined in our constitution.
    Prop. 7 Agree with Ross. It seems like a convoluted thing that would only benefit accountants employed by the state. Why not just say that half of all proceeds from auto related taxes must go to fixing roads and bridges?

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Prop. 1 Yes….This aids all Texas homeowners.
    Prop. 2 No….This puts more burden on every other taxpayer.
    Prop. 3 No….We are voting for people to work, which doesn’t mean “phoning it in.” Sometimes, you just have to be there.
    Prop. 4 No….As a Libertarian, my instinct is to say yes, but I totally disagree with this byzantine, random approach to things. Just legalize all gambling, and get it over with. I’m tired of little tiddly wink fixes, when one simple repeal of the prohibition on gambling, period, would solve the problem. Casinos, 8-liners in convenience stores, dice games….the whole lot of it should no longer be considered a crime in Texas.
    Prop. 5 Yes….I don’t know which rural county wants this, but if someplace out in Nowhere, Texas wants to use their own money to build roads, I say great, why is this not legal already?
    Prop. 6 No….I support hunting and fishing, but this is a feel good proposition that accomplishes nothing. Why not a proposition that Texas supports the right of puppies and kittens to be cute? Frankly, it’s embarrassing that something like this might be enshrined in our constitution.
    Prop. 7 Agree with Ross. It seems like a convoluted thing that would only benefit accountants employed by the state. Why not just say that half of all proceeds from auto related taxes must go to fixing roads and bridges?

  4. Ross says:

    @Bill, the origins of prop 5 go back a number of years, and were driven by the lack of available construction companies in much of the rural part of the state. In many of the small population counties, the county is the only entity that owns any construction equipment. So, there was an amendment to allow counties with a population of 5,000 or less to provide road construction services as long as costs were recovered and none of the county work was delayed as a result. This amendment raises the population threshold to reflect population growth. I looked at the population numbers a while back, and I think this adds 20 something counties to the list where this applies.

  5. Michael says:

    This has some good presentation of the arguments for and against each proposition:

    http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/pdf/focus/amend84.pdf