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Garza County News

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Proposed Constitutional Amendments 1 - 2

General Election November 8

Published Oct. 13, 2011 @ 10:06 p.m.
Updated Oct. 15, 2011 @ 12:57 p.m.

When there is a General Election with proposed Constitutional Amendments on the ballot such as the upcoming general election on Nov. 8 voter turnout across the state is typically very low.  However, these amendments, if approved, have the potential to alter basic elements of your personal life and/or business in the future.  The apparent lack of voter interest in this kind of election is possibly because the propositions are not easily understood. 

We hope that this non-partisan information about each of the proposed amendments in simple language, will spark interest in the voters of Garza County.  (We'll continue posting information on the ten proposed amendments until Early Voting begins Monday, October 24.)

According to Texas Association of Counties (www.county.org), four of the proposed Constitutional Amendments will have a specific affect on counties:  Proposition 1, 4, 5 and 10.

There must be statewide confirmation of each amendment before it is added to the state constitution and the governor can veto the bill to enact the amendment even if it is passed by voters.

Below is information on Proposition 1 and 2:

Proposed Amendment 1

If Proposition 1 is passed it 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 property 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.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  "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."

Supporters believe that this proposed amendment would recognize the sacrifices made by disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.  By allowing a surviving spouse to transfer the surviving spouse’s exemption to a subsequent homestead, the proposed amendment would permit the surviving spouse to move to a different home without losing the exemption. 

Opponents believe that by allowing the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran to receive an exemption from property taxation of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, the proposed amendment would lengthen the period that the homestead is exempt from taxation, thereby decreasing property tax revenue to local governments.  Another argument against the amendment is that tax exemptions should not be extended when basic services such as public education and health care are underfunded.

Proposed Amendment 2

This proposition 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. 

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) makes loans at very low interest rates to cities, towns, water supply corporations, and various other political sub-divisions across the state. These loans are used to finance a variety of local water projects, including infrastructure improvement or water treatment plants.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows:  “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.”

Those who support Proposition 2 believe that the increase in the state population and ongoing drought conditions emphasize the need to update infrastructure to meet current water needs and to plan for future water needs.  Without the proposed additional bonding authority, future water planning and infrastructure upgrades may be difficult to achieve.  This increase would also meet matching requirements for some federal grants.

While there appeared to be very little opposition to Proposition 2 during consideration by the state senate and house, some do believe the jump from $2 billion to $6 billion is too large and changes in the bonding authority of the Texas Water Development Board should be accomplished in smaller increments, with regular review by the legislature and voters.

Resources for this article include The Voters Guide provided by the Texas League of Women Voters; the web site votexas.org and the Voters' Guide provided by Senator Robert Duncan, District 28.   

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