Through the early voting period that ended Friday, the good news was that turnout was a little higher than in the last comparable election.
The bad news was that turnout was 5% and less of registered voters in many East Texas counties. That’s dismal.
But you have one more chance and we encourage you to take it. Today is election day, and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. statewide. Please, make your voice heard.
In addition to Longview-area school board elections, a Hallsville ISD bond referendum and another on creating a new Gregg County emergency services district on local ballots, the statewide ballot includes 10 constitutional amendments on issues ranging from income tax to retiring law enforcement animals.
Here’s a look at each of the proposed amendments and our take on voting:
Proposition 1 — Allowing an elected municipal judge hold more than one such position at a time. The Constitution already allows for appointed municipal judges to hold several appointed judgeships and that accounts for 95% of the offices. This would mean little change. Vote YES.
Proposition 2 — Allowing the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in bonds for water projects in economically distressed areas. Obviously, those in poverty areas deserve a ready, clean supply of water just like everyone else. This would improve the lives of about 400,000 Texans. That is morally right and this measure is fiscally prudent. Vote YES.
Proposition 3 — Allowing the Legislature to provide temporary property tax relief to disaster areas declared by the governor. This amendment is not as good as it could be because, while the governor declares the disaster area, it is up to the local government to choose the percentage of exemption — 15%, 30%, 60% or 100% — and the length of time the exemption would last. Better would have been to set percentage and time with a process to renew in extreme cases. However, the problems are not severe enough to reject the amendment. Vote YES.
Proposition 4 — Prohibiting the Legislature from establishing an income tax. We oppose a state income tax but Texas already has an amendment prohibiting the Legislature from imposing one without a statewide referendum. This proposition has the feel of showboating with no practical purpose. Beyond that, we have no way of knowing how future Texans might want to fund government. Why limit options when an income tax at that time might be the most reasonable alternative if Texas voters agree? Vote NO.
Proposition 5 — Dedicating all sales taxes on sporting goods equipment to state parks and historical sites. This closes a loophole that should have been stitched shut years ago, but the revenue has been coveted by lawmakers to help balance the budget. This has harmed parks and curtailed growth. Vote YES.
Proposition 6 – Allowing the Legislature to double the amount of bonding authority — from $3 billion to $6 billion — to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Cancer is not just going to go away and CPRIT has, after some glitches, proved to be a vital force in this fight. Beyond saving lives, this generates economic activity. Vote YES.
Proposition 7 — Doubling the $300 million cap on contributions from the School Land Board to Texas public schools. The current cap is an arbitrary one, and increasing the amount available to schools could reduce the need for raising local property taxes and schools seeking more funds from other sources. Vote YES.
Proposition 8 — Establishing a flood control program from a one-time distribution from the Texas rainy day fund. The fund would provide loans to local entities to improve flood control. There is little risk with this program and zero cost unless a government defaults on its loan. Vote YES.
Proposition 9 — Allowing the Legislature to exempt precious metals held in the state’s depository from property taxes. Most states now do not tax precious metals and even in Texas such metals are rarely taxed by counties. This would standardize treatment, which is proper. Vote YES.
Proposition 10 — This properly would allow law enforcement dogs to retire and for their handlers to adopt them without a fee. We’re surprised this sensible policy requires a constitutional amendment. However, since it obviously does, it should be soundly approved by voters. Vote YES.