The 2011 Texas Constitution Amendment Election is Nov. 8. Do you know what's on the ballot? Here is a list of pros and cons for the 10 new propositions that will be up for vote. Early voting for the election continues through Nov. 4.
Texas Constitutional Amendment Election 2011
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 proposition gives property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.
Pro: This amendment will give disabled veterans peace of mind that their families will be taken care of after they die.
Con: Opposing this proposition means opposing tax relief for the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.
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 proposition gives the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) the right to issue bonds up to the amount of $6 billion.
Pro: The new budget will give TWDB the funds to meet community needs for water and wastewater. TWDB can also loan funds to water providers at low-interest rates for infrastructure projects.
Con: Could create long-term debt by allowing TWDB to issue bonds to the maximum value of $6 billion, and could cumulatively cost over $6 billion.
The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.
This position would allow the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to provide student loans at lower interest rates.
Pro: Would keep the stand-alone Hinson-Hazlewood student loan program running, and wouldn't raise tax rates. By giving THECB the right to help fund student loans at low-interest rates when needed, the state could avoid expensive constitutional amendments every 4-6 years in order to fund education.
Con: The state's current debt could make loaning money a risk. If students default on loan payments, the debt of Hinson-Hazlewood will ultimately affect the Texas budget.
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.
This proposition allows counties to fund underdeveloped areas with property taxes.
Pro: By developing unused land, counties can bring in additional property taxes and funding. Counties will also be able to use undeveloped properties for needed transportation projects.
Con: If counties use the undeveloped land to create new areas of transportation, it could spark higher property appraisals instead of higher tax rates.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into inter-local contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.
This proposition would allow cities or counties to start inter-local projects without being taxed or creating a sinking fund. A sinking fund is traditionally a fund created to pay for the loans an entity borrows in order to reduce its debt and liability.
Pro: Saves taxpayers money in the long run by allowing inter-local government projects to run more efficiently and continue without contract renewal.
Con: In situations where inter-local projects acquire a debt, there is not a required tax or sinking fund to hold those projects accountable for that debt.
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.
This proposition would allow schools to take from their permanent school fund to pay for expenses.
Pro: Allows schools access to funds without the barrier of the General Land Office.
Con: Is only a temporary solution and could cause problems later on if schools are unable to replenish their permanent school funds.
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.
This proposition allows El Paso County districts to issue bonds supported by taxes to create recreational facilities and parks.
Pro: Would bring in human capital and create regional investment for El Paso County districts. Also supports community recreation.
Con: May increase debt or shift community focus away from growing the local economy.
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.
This proposition appraises the tax value of a property with a water source based on the amount of clean, quality water the property can produce.
Pro: Gives landowners incentive to work with the state to create clean, quality water sources.
Con: Increases the number of tax exemptions landowners involved in water stewardship already have.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.
This proposition allows individuals who have pleaded "guilty" or "no contest" to their crimes and completed their court mandate to receive a pardon by governor.
Pro: Gives those who plead "guilty" or "no contest" the same right to be pardoned that individuals with convictions already have. In addition, gives an individual with no criminal conviction the chance to remove the crime he or she pleaded guilty to from his or her permanent record.
Con: The public would not see the crime on a person's record after he or she was pardoned.
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.
This proposition extends the term for district and county officials by 30 days to prevent officials from resigning from office to campaign for another office before their term is over.
Pro: Prevents district and county officials from resigning from office in the transitional month during elections.
Con: Officials should not be allowed to hold office while campaigning for another office.