Proposition Opposition

With all the recent focus on the government shutdown, many will miss the fact that there is also an election just days away, early voting starts Monday and will run through Friday, November 1.  Texas voters will decide on nine amendments to the Texas Constitution.  View a sample ballot here (archived link)  The Texas Constitution is a large and complex document because it is rare that constitutional amendments fail at the ballot box.

With this in mind it is important to point out that these amendments are often the means of saddling Texans with debt. Texas taxpayers already find ourselves with the 2nd highest local debt burden in the country.  Yet elected officials still don’t seem to get the idea that citizens are tired of the runaway spending that fails to pay as we go.  We must live within our means and should not be increasing our debt!

Consequently, We Texans urges voters to “just say no” to most of this ballot.  Yes, that’s right, since four of the nine propositions call for shifting of or increases in government spending or tax burden, we are recommending that you vote “against” them; two others, prop 5 and 7, in our view, also warrant votes “against”.  Propositions 2, 8 and 9 are the exceptions for which we can support a “for” vote.

Here’s why:

Proposition 1: Provides a property tax exemption for surviving spouses of certain service members.  Read the legislation here (HRJ 62)

While the property tax is a fundamentally flawed means of funding local government that we are working to  completely eliminate, it is the method that is used in Texas today.  Though well intended, this proposition adds yet another exemption to the long list of property tax-outs and distorts justice by shifting the cost of local government to the shoulders of others in the community.  We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 2: Removing provisions for the State Medical Education Board.  Read the legislation here (HJR 79)

This proposal would remove constitutional authorization for the State Medical Education Board and the State Medical Education Fund by repealing Texas Constitution Art. 3, sec. 50a.  The Board is inactive as the functions of the Board have been transferred to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Office of the Attorney General.  The Sunset Advisory Commission recommended the Board be eliminated way back in 1988; we’re finally getting around to doing that.  We Texans recommends voting “for” this proposition.

Proposition 3: Allowing extension of exemption from inventory taxes for aircraft parts Read the legislation here (HJR 133)

Again, while we wholeheartedly agree property and inventory taxes should be eliminated, they are currently the means for financing local governments and public education.  Providing this exemption shifts the burden from the effected industries to the shoulders of others in that same community.  Taxes must be equitably and justly distributed.  Singling out one group for a tax exemption, even for a meritorious purpose, raises issues of uniformity in taxation.  We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 4: Tax exemption for disabled veterans whose homesteads were donated by a charity.  Read the legislation here (HJR 24)

While the property tax is a fundamentally flawed means of funding local government that we are working to  completely eliminate, it is the method that is used in Texas today.  Though well intended, this proposition adds yet another exemption to the long list of property tax-outs and distorts justice by shifting the cost of local government to the shoulders of others in the community.  We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 5: Authorizes a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property.  Read the legislation here (SJR 18)

Texans have rightly been skeptical of creative lending schemes especially when it comes to financing homes.  Loosening restrictions on reverse mortgages would make Texans more vulnerable to being upside down in their homes, having greater debt than equity.  We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 6: Creating funds to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water planRead the legislation here (SJR 1)

This proposal would create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas removing $2 billion from the Rainy Day fund and placing it outside the general revenue in this quasi-investment bank overseen by the appointed three-member Texas Water Development Board.  Claims about the purpose of the fund are misleading.  The fund can not be used to finance state water plan projects.  These funds can only be use to provide additional security in the form of debt service, deferred loan structure or credit enhancement on projects already supported by Texas Water Development Bonds.  Texas voters authorized $6 billion in revolving bond authority in 2011 none of which has been issued or utilized.  These new funds would provide additional incentive to local governments to utilize these bonds (i.e., loans, taking on more debt) by providing a reduction in the interest due on the loan.  Local governments generally already have sufficient credit ratings to complete projects without financial assistance from the state.  Further, since water rights and development occur at the local and regional level and there are few processes in place to prioritize water projects across the state, there is little guarantee the funds will be directed towards the most critical projects.  We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 7: Allowing home-rule cities to decide how to fill vacant seats.  Read the legislation here (HJR 87)

The proposal would allow home-rule cities (cities with a population of more than 5,000 that have adopted a home-rule charter) to amend their charter to allow filling vacancies on the governing body by appointment rather than by election as is currently required.  Cities argue that filling vacancies by special election within 120 days after the start of a vacancy, as is currently required, is costly.  The proposal would, however, likely provide incentive for early resignation so appointments could be made thereby giving newly appointed members an advantage in any subsequent election.  The cost of a special election in the rare occurrence of a vacancy is a small price to pay to ensure accountability in city government.    We Texans recommends voting “against” this proposition.

Proposition 8: Repealing the provision authorizing a hospital district in Hidalgo County.  Read the legislation here (HJR 147)

The proposal would correct a constitutional discrepancy that limits the maximum tax rate in Hidalgo County hospital districts to 10 cents while hospital districts in other counties are limited to maximum tax rates of 75 cents.   Hidalgo County residents would be allowed to create new hospital districts under the conditions available to other counties.  We Texans recommends voting “for” this proposition.

Proposition 9: Expanding the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s sanctioning authority.  Read the legislation here (SJR 42)

This provision would expand the current authority after a formal hearing to allow the commission to issue a public admonition, warning or reprimand or require a judge or justice to obtain training or education.  We Texans recommends voting “for” on this proposition.

The Constitution has been amended hundreds of times, and when voters are asked to tack on yet another law, most of the time they say ‘Yes.” This is a good year to say “No” to many of these proposals.

We Texans continues to engage in policy work in areas dear to freedom loving Texans: private property, gun ownership, state sovereignty and tax and fiscal policy.  You can be a part of the work that we do by committing to regularly fund our efforts.  If you have not already done so, I hope you will consider becoming a member today formerly wetexans.com.  Attention on political work seems to wane between legislative sessions but as the Speaker of the House recently pointed out, the blue print for the next legislative session is being crafted NOW.  We can’t afford to slack off.  We’ll be in Austin often and we’ll be working to help draft legislation that addresses these key policy areas.  Your donation of $50, $100 or $250 helps fund our work.  If you are able, we would be very appreciative of your generous contribution.

And please, remember to vote and be sure to encourage your family and friends to review the issues and then cast their vote.  With your help, we can defeat these ill-conceived proposals and slow the growth of government in Texas.

About We Texans Archives
Special Thanks to Debra Medina and staff for outstanding research on sovereignty and property rights and property taxes. Hat Tip to all! Formerly WeTexans.com this content is archived and searchable here on Constitutional Liberty Coalition for reference only.

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