Listener: Pratt on Texas
Date: 25 Oct 2011
Time: 11:50:44 -0700
Remote Name: 126.96.36.199
Information on the 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment election.
Early voting began Monday, October 25th
and runs through Friday, November 4th. Election day is Tuesday, November
Texas Constitutional Amendment Election, November 8, 2011
Proposition Number 1 - Pratt says: "Vote YES"
"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."
SJR 14 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to provide the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran with an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried, the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the qualifying veteran died, and the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.
Pratt comments: Number one allows a surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran to continue to receive a property tax exemption after the death of the vet. It let's them keep the exemption if they move, to be nearer family for example, after the death of the spouse. I see no reason not to support this amendment and will vote yes.
Proposition Number 2 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
“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.”
SJR 4 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for one or more accounts of the Texas Water Development Fund II, with the restriction that the total amount of bonds outstanding at any time does not exceed $6 billion.
Pratt comments: I'm all for the Texas Water Development Board being able to help finance major water infrastructure projects but, I'll vote no on number two because the Legislature screwed this up and made it dangerous. Friend Michael Quinn Sullivan put it this way, in part, "Make no mistake, issuing bonds is a viable way to fund the infrastructure needed to improve Texas’ access to water... But the legislature did a very curious thing: they made this $6 billion issuance of bonds “evergreen” – meaning that the TWDB will be allowed to keep issuing the debt into perpetuity. Usually, bonds are issued as a one-time debt obligation. Once the bond is issued, the issuing authority is over. Any new issuance of debt requires making the case to the taxpayers. But not under this proposition." (Read more at: http://www.empowertexans.com/features/building-permanent-debt/ )
Let's say that the TWDB finances a few boondoggles and the headlines are full of what a mess it all is, the way this is setup the board's ability to keep financing bad projects, with debt issued in your name, would be codified in into the Constitution leaving little that could be done. This amendment needs to go back to the Legislature and then come back to voters with either a time limit or. a requirement that the bond issuance program be given some type of go-ahead vote each Legislative session to continue.
Proposition Number 3 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.”
SJR 50 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or its successors to issue and sell general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for the purpose of financing educational loans for students, subject to certain constitutional restrictions, including a restriction as to the maximum principal amount of bonds outstanding at any one time.
Pratt comments: How about instead of feeding the appetites of the tuition and fee raising universities with more money through loans to students, we simply make those schools lower tuition and fees to Texas students? That would prevent more public and personal debt and return the state-sponsored schools back to their mission of affordability in higher education. I strongly recommend you read the first item below, in the resources list, from Empower Texans.
Also, the folks who administer the loans, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, like to mention that the program costs taxpayers nothing. That may be the case but will it be in the future? There is a real problem which would make it cost taxpayers such as: Texas among top states for student loan defaults. Additionally, there is a social movement nationwide toward people no longer paying their debts - listen to the Occupy movement morons.
Proposition Number 4 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"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."
HJR 63 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area within the county, and to pledge increases in ad valorem tax revenues imposed on property in the area by the county for repayment of such bonds or notes. The amendment does not provide independent authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.
Pratt comments: Proposition 4 is dangerous! It lets counties issue bond debt to take over and “redevelop” areas county leaders think are blighted or underdeveloped. This is nothing but enabling local governments to take on more debt and enables the abuse private property rights. I strongly recommend you read the two following opinion pieces from Empower Texans, just below in the resources section.
Proposition Number 5 - Pratt says: "Vote YES"
"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."
SJR 26 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to allow cities and counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities and counties without having to assess an ad valorem tax and set aside a specified amount of funds for the payment of costs under the interlocal contract.
Pratt comments: Amendment 5 is good, it allows cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts without imposing a tax. Currently a tax has to be involved for them to band together to save money on joint projects. We're already seeing some Metroplex suburbs explore sharing city jails, and police communication systems and law enforcement offices.
Proposition Number 6 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"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."
HJR 109 would amend the constitution to increase the amount of principal that is available for withdrawal from the permanent school fund each year and would also clarify certain references to that fund in the constitution. Increased access to the principal of the state public education trust fund would be based upon HJR 109 granting the authority to consider alternative market calculations when determining the amount of principal that is available for distribution to the available school fund. HJR 109 would also provide authority to distribute to the available school fund annual revenue from school fund land or other properties up to $300 million per year.
Pratt comments: Voters should take a sober reading of amendment six and think about whether it is a good idea to begin less re-investment in the fund just to get a little spending pleasure short term. As legislative opponents have pointed out, the fund is meant to provide interest revenue from investment of the fund’s permanent assets, and it would be unwise to spend funds that otherwise should be invested. Read a more detailed version here: http://www.empowertexans.com/around-texas/is-amendment-vi-worth-the-risk/
Proposition Number 7 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities."
SJR 28 would amend the constitution by adding El Paso County to the list of counties authorized to create conservation and reclamation districts to develop parks and recreational facilities financed by taxes.
Pratt comments: Proposition seven allows for the creation of reclamation districts in El Paso County to be supported by property taxes. Out of a general dislike of creating new entities to tax people into the poor-house, I’ll vote “no”. Remember, it won't just be an El Paso issue as once one county does it, and gets its greedy hands on more taxpayer money, others will run to the Legislature to copy the deal.
Proposition Number 8 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity."
SJR 16 would amend the constitution by requiring the legislature to provide for taxation of open space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.
Pratt comments: Proposition eight changes how land is appraised for property taxes for certain types of open-space land devoted to what is termed water-stewardship purposes. This proposition bothers me for several reasons. First, on the surface it sounds like environmentalist anti-private property stuff - or a way to implement such in the long term. Granted this is a very weak argument for which I have little evidence to support. Second, as some in legislative hearings stated, the proposal and its enabling legislation could provide a path for the undermining of the agricultural-use property valuation. Others are neutral on this item but, as I promised to have no neutral positions, I say vote no on eight.
Proposition Number 9 - Pratt says: "Vote YES"
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision."
SJR 9 would amend the constitution to authorize the governor, on the written recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to grant a pardon, reprieve, or commutation of punishment to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.
Pratt comments: Currently the governor can only pardon someone who was convicted of committing a crime; this excludes someone who successfully completes deferred adjudication community supervision. Amendment Nine changes the constitution so that the governor can issue a pardon to someone who received deferred adjudication and completed the deferment successfully. I’ll vote for number nine but, be aware that it will likely have little effect because all applications for pardons must still go through the Board of Pardons and Paroles which has a reputation of sending very few recommendations through to the governor.
Proposition Number 10 - Pratt says: "Vote NO"
"The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office."
SJR 37 would amend the constitution by extending the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain local elected officeholders if they announce candidacy or become candidates for another office from one year to one year and 30 days.
Pratt comments: New Federal rules for military ballots caused Texas to have to move up the period for filing to run for office. The resign-to-run rule in Texas requires certain office holders to resign their position if they announce a run for any office, other than the one they occupy, if there is more than one year left on their term. Number ten moves the date back to match the new filing schedule.
Many may be surprised at my opposition to proposed amendment number ten. I’ve two reasons: First, we should have moved our Primary Elections later, as such used to be, in order to meet new Federal timeline challenges. Instead we moved the filing deadline back to more than a year before the terms are up on offices, which is ridiculous in my opinion. Second, it would be good to have an election cycle where those on the public payroll can’t campaign on our dime for higher office. And, if it didn’t pass it might open up many more local courthouse offices to newcomers this time around .
I hope this is all useful to you in helping make Texas better.
© 2011 Pratt on Texas