On the Nov. 5 ballot, voters will be asked to decide on 10 constitutional amendments passed by the Legislature during the 86th Session. The issues range from funding for cancer research to allocating additional resources to public schools. Early voting starts today, Oct. 21. Sample ballots, information on where to vote, and what identification is needed to vote, can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
While each proposition is important and warrants full consideration, there are three that are expected to affect local government operations.
Ballot language: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”
Currently the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) Economically Distressed Area Program estimates a need for over $440 million in projects to provide the basic water infrastructure to meet the minimum needs of communities throughout Texas. Passing Proposition 2 would amend the constitution to allow TWDB to issue $200 million in general obligation bonds that can be used to provide development of water supply, sewer service, and drainage projects in those economically distressed areas of Texas.
Ballot language: “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”
In 1993, the Legislature created a sales tax on sporting goods to help fund the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC). It is estimated that the tax has generated $2.5 billion over the last 10 years. The challenge has been that only 40% of the taxes collected have been appropriated to TPWD and THC to address their maintenance and restoration efforts during a time when state parks and historical sites continue to see over 10 million visitors annually.
Parks and historical sites are not only aesthetically beautiful but they are also economic engines for communities across the state. Based on a 2018 Economic Impact study, parks generated more than $891 million in sales, had a $240 million impact on income for Texas residents, and supported an estimated 6,081 jobs throughout the state. Proposition 5 would dedicate 94% of the current sales tax collected on sporting goods to TPWD and 6% to the THC.
Ballot language: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
The ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey brought to light the challenges with addressing reoccurring flooding issues that Texas continues to experience. The 86th Legislature created the opportunity to fund flood infrastructure to mitigate the damages flooding can cause our communities. Proposition 8 would create a special flood infrastructure fund in the state treasury, to be operated by the TWDB, to provide financial assistance with developing large scale projects, such as drainage that would help mitigate the impact of future floods.