Brian Ahern, Contributing Writer
On Nov. 5, nine proposed amendments to the Texas constitution will be up for special election. This election happens every odd-numbered year, with typically an unfortunately low voter turnout.
Of the nine propositions, very few of them have been opposed within the Texas legislature, except for Prop. 6, which concerns the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). The proposed amendment would appropriate $2 billion of existing state revenue to the implementation of projects developed by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), in accordance to its 2012 State Water Plan. The projects include the creation of reservoirs as well as management strategies for the improvement of source water quality. The plan was drawn up in response to statewide drought conditions, which if these conditions continue, will result in an economic loss of $115.7 billion by the year 2060 and put 1.1 million Texans out of work, according to data projections by the TWDB.
Democrats and Republicans alike have joined together in support of the bill and even environmental advocacy group Environment Texas is standing alongside oil companies such as BP and Shell Oil in the bill’s favor. Governor Rick Perry has recently been very vocal in his support of SWIFT and has been traveling throughout the state garnering support for it.
Opponents to the bill consist mainly of libertarians and some Tea Party Republicans, including former gubernatorial candidates Kathie Glass and Debra Medina. They argue that SWIFT is simply a gimmick to enable the Texas legislature to avoid the constitutional limit of spending of general state revenue. They say most financing for local water management should be provided by the users rather than the state.
The other proposed amendments have not generated nearly as much discussion as Prop. 6. However, Props. 1 and 4 have raised some concerns in the Texas House. The two propositions both relate to property tax exemptions for veterans and the spouses of veterans. Prop. 1 allows for a tax exemption for the spouse of a military member killed in action until that spouse remarries, while Prop. 4 grants a tax exemption for a disabled veteran’s property if it was donated by a charitable organization. Most members of the legislature support the bills, but concerns have been raised that the tax exemptions would put a fiscal strain on local governments and shift the burden onto other property holders.
Prop. 3 would allow for a two-year extension of a tax exemption for aircraft parts. Supporters argue that this extension would give Texas a greater competitive edge in the aerospace technological market, as the current limit on tax exemptions of 175 days compels aerospace companies to ship their inventory out of state. Opponents argue that the longer tax exemption would place a greater burden on local and state governments. However, the loss of revenue that would be generated by such an exemption cannot fully be predicted.
Visit www.votetexas.gov for information regarding the other five propositions and to learn more about the ones discussed here.