The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing 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.
Texas has money for Textbooks. This money comes primarily from land leases for oil and gas exploration, as well as for grazing rights. The profits from these activities have been invested, and the interest on the investment is distributed by the State Board of Education to schools to buy textbooks. But legislators want to raid this big pile of money for other school funding, and they don’t care whether future generations will have a stable base of textbook funds or not. That’s the purpose of this amendment – to raid the permanent school fund and to undermine the authority of the State Board of Education by allowing other state officers to grab the money.
Stop the money grab. Vote Against this amendment.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.
This one is complicated, but so is current law. The net result is that local governments can work together more easily.
Currently, when local governments want to collaborate on some project – say a road, or EMS service, or whatever – both governments have to create a bond or other debt instrument, place funds in this bond, then pay out to the common project. These agreements can only last for a single year at a time.
With the amendment, the complex accounting will no longer be required, and it will be easier for cities and counties to collaborate on working for the people, rather than working for the lawyers and accountants, and that’s a good thing. Please vote FOR this amendment.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature 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. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.
Do you like trains? How about toll roads? Would you prefer that a county government that wanted to build a toll road or a commuter/light-rail system have to get approval from voters? That’s what this amendment is really about. This would give counties the authority to declare a chunk of land “underdeveloped,” bet that building a trolley that ran past the land would increase the property taxes, and use this projected increase in valuation to authorize bonds to go build their trolley system without voter approval.
I say, “just say no!” to allowing counties to speculate on how wonderful trolley’s and toll-ways will be.
The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.
Here is another example of evergreen bonding authority for a state agency. In many ways, this one is more dangerous for the state than the Water Development Board evergreen bonds. That is because the rate of default on Student Loans is higher than the rate of default by local governments who would be repaying water development loans. I recommend a “no” vote because it simply hands too much authority to a State Agency that should properly rest in the hands of the Legislature.
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.
This amendment provides for “evergreen” bonds. This allows the state to borrow more whenever they pay off the previous bonds. This might be beneficial as a one-time activity – to allow the state to “refinance” their existing loan at lower interest rates – but it is dangerous as a long-term strategy, as it impinges upon the state debt ceiling without adequate legislative controls.
I believe that a funding source for water projects is useful, but I would prefer an authority be given to the Texas Water Development Board absent the “evergreen” provision.
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.
This law is about fairness and compassion. In 2009 a constitutional amendment was passed changing the exemption for 100% disabled veterans to 100%. However, should the veteran die, then the surviving spouse under current law would have to bear the full tax burden.
This amendment seeks to correct this oversight, and provide the same exemption for the surviving spouse. The statute includes a limitation that the exemption would be removed should the surviving spouse remarry. It also provides that the exemption is limited to a single homestead property.
For the sake of fairness, I recommend voting FOR this amendment.
I’ll be writing up my thoughts on the amendments, but first, a quick summary:
# 1 – Yes
# 2 – No
# 3 – No
# 4 – No
# 5 – Yes
# 6 – No
# 7 – No
# 8 – No
# 9 – Yes
# 10 – Yes
In General, I recommend passage when it will make government more efficient, or sometimes more compassionate. I tend to vote against amendments that will increase the power of the state or will increase taxes or debt.
Here are a few other places with recommendations and a lot more detail than I have time to write about: