'Austin Chronicle' Endorsements

General Election, Nov. 6 – Proposed Constitutional Amendments

In keeping with our contrarian tradition – and our conviction that constitutional referendums are a poor substitute for responsibly representative government – we suggest our readers consider voting no on all 16 proposed amendments. Most would not be missed. However, for those who insist, in this fallen world, on pragmatic distinctions, we offer these succinct recommendations (with as little repetition as possible). – The editorial board

"The constitutional amendment providing for ...


Proposition 1: ... the continuation of the constitutional appropriation for facilities and other capital items at Angelo State University on a change in the governance of the university."

YES. This ratifies the transfer of ASU from the Texas State University System to the Texas Tech University System. Why not?


Prop. 2: ... the issuance of $500 million in general obligation bonds to finance educational loans to students and authorizing bond enhancement agreements with respect to general obligation bonds issued for that purpose."

YES. The Lege won't properly underwrite student loans through appropriations – which is negligence – but standing on principle would deprive even more students of college opportunities.


Prop. 3: ... the maximum appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem taxation is limited to the lesser of the most recent market value of the residence homestead as determined by the appraisal entity or 110%, or a greater percentage, of the appraised value of the residence homestead for the preceding tax year."

NO. This is simply one more attempt to undermine local jurisdictions and the public schools' tax base for districts that don't appraise every year (already limited to 10%). The state should either support the schools directly or allow property taxes to work.


Prop. 4: ... authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects and for the purchase of needed equipment."

YES. This is the same shotgun logic as Prop. 2 – dozens of crucial agencies (Parks & Wildlife, Health Services, Youth Commission, etc.) need funding, and this is the only way they're going to get it.


Prop. 5: ... to permit the voters of a municipality having a population of less than 10,000 to authorize the governing body of the municipality to enter into an agreement with an owner of real property in or adjacent to an area in the municipality that has been approved for funding under certain programs administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture under which the parties agree that all ad valorem taxes imposed on the owner's property may not be increased for the first five tax years after the tax year in which the agreement is entered into."

YES. This would enable economic development in small towns, under agreement with local landowners, in return for a five-year tax abatement.


Prop. 6: ... to exempt from ad valorem taxation one motor vehicle owned by an individual and used in the course of the owner's occupation or profession and also for personal activities of the owner."

YES. Many small-business people and freelancers effectively live and work out of their cars, and a single vehicle exemption should not threaten the school budget.


Prop. 7: ... to allow governmental entities to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owners at the price the entities paid to acquire the property."

YES. This "allows" but does not mandate such sales, and the number of such occasions is small. A reasonable check on unnecessary condemnation.


Prop. 8: ... to clarify certain provisions relating to the making of a home equity loan and use of home equity loan proceeds."

YES. This is just a necessary cleanup of home-equity loan procedures, and it's a damn shame it has to be done through the Constitution, but it would protect some borrowers otherwise at risk.


Prop. 9: ... to exempt all or part of the residence homesteads of certain totally disabled veterans from ad valorem taxation and authorizing a change in the manner of determining the amount of the existing exemption from ad valorem taxation to which a disabled veteran is entitled."

YES. Under current imperial conditions, this is the least we can do for disabled veterans. Now let's stop making more of them.


Prop. 10: ... to abolish the consti­tu­tion­al authority for the office of inspector of hides and animals."

NO. Is this Texas or whut? Remember the Alamo!


Prop. 11: ... to require that a record vote be taken by a house of the legislature on final passage of any bill, other than certain local bills, of a resolution proposing or ratifying a constitutional amendment, or of any other nonceremonial resolution, and to provide for public access on the Internet to those record votes."

NO. This is a pointless exercise in the pretense of democracy, recording the least meaningful legislative votes so the state dailies can claim victory in a children's crusade and the officeholders can claim virtue, like public-praying pharisees.


Prop. 12: ... the issuance of general obligation bonds by the Texas Transportation Commission in an amount not to exceed $5 billion to provide funding for highway improvement projects."

NO. If these "No New Taxes" Republicans want highways, let them pay for 'em up front, with appropriations that cost less and are directly accountable.


Prop. 13: ... authorizing the denial of bail to a person who violates certain court orders or conditions of release in a felony or family violence case."

NO. A reasonable bail is a constitutional right, and the latest trend in unpopular crimes is not a reason to undermine it.


Prop. 14: ... permitting a justice or judge who reaches the mandatory retirement age while in office to serve the remainder of the justice's or judge's current term."

YES. If they can still do the job, let 'em work.


Prop. 15: ... the creation of the Cancer Pre­ven­tion and Research Institute of Texas and authorizing the issuance of up to $3 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for research in Texas to find the causes of and cures for cancer."

YES. Like who's going to vote for cancer and against Lance Armstrong? Again, short of loan sharks, this is not the best way to pay for public needs, but it beats Gov. Perry's proposal to sell the lottery. Maybe it will help establish a health-care tradition in Texas.


Prop. 16: ... the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $250 million to provide assistance to economically distressed areas."

YES. If we're really lucky, a few more hapless colonias will get water and wastewater service. And the bloodsucking bankers will drink the interest.



Beyond City Limits

Voters elsewhere in Travis Co. will decide on an assortment of ballot questions.

CITY OF CEDAR PARK

Prop. 1: $36,200,000 tax bonds for streets and roads.

Prop. 2: $19,570,000 tax bonds for a City Hall.

Prop. 3: $17,980,000 tax bonds for park and recreational facilities including a recreation center.

Prop. 4: $7,890,000 tax bonds for public safety facilities and projects.

CITY OF SUNSET VALLEY

Prop. 1: Plan, acquire, and develop the Edwards Aquifer Protection Venue Project, and impose a 0.125% sales tax to finance it.

Prop. 2: Switch to a city manager form of government.

CITY OF JONESTOWN: $1,000,000 in general obligation bonds for a police station.

CITY OF LAKEWAY: Adopt an additional 0.5% sales tax to reduce the property tax rate.

CITY OF MANOR: Adopt the proposed home rule charter for the city of Manor.

PFLUGERVILLE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: $125,000,000 in bonds for school buildings and sites.

DRIPPING SPRINGS ISD: $96,170,000 in bonds to build and renovate school facilities and buy land.

TRAVIS CO. EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT No. 5: Local sales and use tax at the rate of 1%.

TRAVIS CO. ESD No. 6: Local sales and use tax at the rate of 0.5% for fire and emergency medical services.

TRAVIS CO. ESD No. 11: Increase rate of local sales and use tax from 1% to 1.75%, except within corporate boundaries of Mustang Ridge and Creedmoor.

EAST TRAVIS GATEWAY LIBRARY DISTRICT: Trustee election: John Reynero, Cliff Sparks

LAKESIDE Municipal Utility District No. 6

Prop. 1: Create the municipal utility district.

Prop. 2: $18,445,000 bonds for system facilities.

Prop. 3: $1,760,000 bonds for parks and recreation.

Prop. 4: $25,000,000 of refunding bonds.

Prop. 5: Operation and maintenance tax.

Board of directors: Andrea Mangan, Bart Koonse, Oscar B. Peterson Jr., Jeremy Calahan, Kevin Kelly

LAKEWAY MUD: $13.3 million bonds for water and wastewater.

LAZY NINE MUD: Divide district into five.


Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 6

On Election Day, voters must vote in their precinct; for a list of precinct locations, call 238-VOTE, or see www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20070512/polls.asp.

Travis County Early Voting continues through Friday, Nov. 2

Travis Co. voters may vote at any early-voting location.

Polls are open Monday-Saturday, 7am-7pm, and Sunday, noon-6pm, except as noted.


EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS

Central

Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport

Fiesta Mart, 3909 N. I-35

Flawn Academic Center (the Undergraduate Library) lobby, West Mall, University of Texas campus

Travis Co. Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe

Howson Public Library, 2500 Exposition (Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm)

East

Parque Zaragosa Recreation Center, 2608 Gonzales St. @ E. 7th

Northeast Austin Community Health Center, 7112 Ed Bluestein (Spring­dale Shopping Center)

Southeast

Fiesta Mart, 5510 S. I-35

Dan Ruiz Public Library, 1600 Grove Blvd.

Northeast

County Tax Office, 15822 Foothill Farms Loop (just off Pecan Street), Pflugerville

North

Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson (Monday-Saturday, 9am-8pm; Sunday, noon-6pm)

Highland Mall, 6001 Airport (lower level near Fun Zone; Monday-Saturday, 9am-8pm; Sunday, noon-6pm)

MT Supermarket, 10901 N. Lamar (Monday-Saturday, 10am-7pm; Sunday, noon-6pm)

Northwest

Randalls, 10900-D Research

HEB, 7301 FM 620 N.*

South

Randalls, 2025 W. Ben White

HEB, 2400 S. Congress*

Southwest

Randalls, 6600 MoPac S.

Randalls, 9911 Brodie

West

Randalls, 2303 RR 620 S.

Randalls, 3300 Bee Caves Rd.

* Temporary building in parking lot


MOBILE VOTING

Thursday, Nov. 1

Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon, 10am-3pm

Summit at Lakeway, 1915 Lohmans Crossing Rd., Lakeway, 4-6pm

Seton Northwest, 11113 Research, 8am-1pm

Northwest Rural Community Center, 18649 FM 1431 Ste. 6-A, Jonestown, 8am-5pm

Friday, Nov. 2

Heartland Health Care Center, 11406 Rustic Rock, 2-5pm

Lago Vista City Hall, 5803 Thunderbird, Lago Vista, 8am-5pm

St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress, 9am-3pm

Heritage Park Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, 2806 Real, 9am-noon


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