Next week Texas voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution.
This election cycle features seven proposed constitutional amendments that cover a variety of concerns from this year’s legislative session.
The amendment drawing the most attention is Proposition 7, which would funnel more state dollars into the highway fund. In particular it would dedicate up to $2.5 billion in sales taxes to highways, once the state collects $28 billion.
It would also steer 35 percent of vehicle sales taxes to the Texas Dept. of Transportation once the state collects $5 billion.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott called into a radio station to endorse Proposition 7 along with Propositions 1 and 6.
“The people of Texas have been very clear – they want to have more roads built in the state of Texas. That is exactly what Proposition 7 does. It ensures that we are spending billions of dollars more each and every year to build more roads without raising a single penny in taxes, fees, tolls or debt. We will build these roads without more tolls and make sure that you are able to get around town a whole lot faster,” Abbott said about Proposition 7.
During a town hall meeting earlier this month, State Rep. Stuart Spitzer also endorsed the proposition.
Spitzer noted the funds would be for new construction and would not be spent on toll roads.
He said a possible pitfall would be that if state revenues decline, this amendment would tie legislators’ hands in being able to redirect funds to other needed programs.
“This will keep TxDOT happy for at least a little bit,” Spitzer said.
He added that the state has ben paying for highways with a credit card – using bonds. “I think ‘pay as you go” is the way you ought to go,” he said.
The Kaufman County Commissioners Court also endorsed Proposition 7 this week during their meeting.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Skeet Phillips said the proposition will “help greatly” with many of the county’s road bond issues.
The proposition states “The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”
Current state law provides for an exemption from property taxes for surviving spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans who after Jan. 1, 2010, provided that they meet a certain criteria.
Proposition 2 would make eligible the same benefits to the surviving spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans who died before the law took effect, provided they meet the same criteria.
Proposition 3 would allow statewide elected officials to not maintain a residence in Austin while serving their term.
Sports teams will be able to conduct charitable raffles during games if Proposition 4 passes.
The fifth proposition – if passed – would authorize a county with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance on its roads.
Proposition 6 would amend the state constitution to recognize the right of Texans to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to wildlife conservation laws.
Polling sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.