Today is Election Day. We have a local election on the ballot, as well as state constitutional amendments.
The constitutional amendments cover key policy areas, from water to state parks to cancer research, as well as future revenue sources.
There are two propositions relating to water. Proposition 2 addresses water and wastewater infrastructure in economically distressed areas, while Proposition 8 deals with flood mitigation and planning, For El Paso, Proposition 2 is critical. It allows the Texas Water Development Board to issue bonds to grant funding through the Economically Distressed Areas Program for water and sewer hook-ups.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Legislature prioritized emergency preparedness and flood planning and mitigation. Proposition 8 would alleviate our flooding problems in El Paso and across the state by establishing the Flood Infrastructure Fund to provide a source of funding for local governments for flood planning and mitigation. The FIF would also help draw down federal funding for flood planning and mitigation This puts Texas at an advantage over other states that do not have a similar program available.
Both Propositions 2 and 8 will improve overall living conditions, public health, and economic opportunity for residents and businesses across the state.
We also have an opportunity to better fund our state parks and historic sites by voting for Proposition 5. If approved, 100 percent of the funding collected through the existing sporting goods sales tax would be dedicated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. While this tax is collected now, TPWD and THC do not receive all of the revenues. In fact, in previous years, less than 50 percent of these funds were distributed to TPWD and THC. Voting for Proposition 5 will ensure that our state parks and historic sites have a stable revenue source to continue operating and be maintained well for generations of Texans to come.
I’ve long advocated for access to health care, including access to cancer prevention and treatment. Proposition 6 would allow for a $3 billion increase in the bond amount established for the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas in 2007. CPRIT provides grants and supports programs that advance cancer research and prevention. It has created thousands of jobs, brought in more than 170 researchers to Texas, and generated billions of dollars of economic activity. Increasing the bond amount would protect CPRIT’s future, because current funding for awards will run out in 2021.
While I understand the intent of Proposition 4, it is the one item on the ballot that I will be voting against. Proponents of the measure say it makes it harder for Texas to ever establish a state income tax. However, the Texas Constitution already contains strict requirements necessary to enact any kind of state income tax. Moreover, even if the state were to enact an income tax, the revenue collected is already required to be directed to public education and property tax relief. Proposition 4 is duplicative and does not achieve anything new for our state, while tying the hands of future legislatures.
Hope to see you at the polls!