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2011 Constitutional Amendments Proposition 1 (SJR 14): Property Tax Exemption for the Surviving Spouse of a Disabled Veteran

The Ballot Reads: "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." Summary: In 2007, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow for totally disabled veterans to receive a complete exemption from property taxes on their primary residence. Proposition 1 extends the property tax exemption for the residential homestead of totally disabled veteran to their surviving spouse upon the death of the disabled veteran if the property the disabled veteran resided at received a complete exemption in the prior tax year, the surviving spouse is over 55 years old and has not remarried, and the property remains the residential homestead of the surviving spouse. Supporters Say: Current state law allows for a complete property tax exemption for disabled veterans, but when the veteran dies, their surviving spouse would be subject to full tax liability in the following year. A surviving spouse can inherit existing property tax freezes for the elderly and disabled, so this law will remain consistent with current constitutional provisions. Opponents Say: The property tax exemption would lower property tax revenues to school districts and local governments slightly.

Proposition 2 (SJR 4): Provide the Texas Water Development Board Additional Bonding Authority The Ballot Reads: "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." Summary: Proposition 2 will allow for the Texas Water Development Board to issue $6 billion in bonds to provide for projects in the State Water Plan through the Texas Water Development Fund II. This constitutional amendment will "evergreen" the bonding authority instead of requiring constitutional authority for future bonds submitted to the voters when the bonds are paid off. As local governments repay their bond debts and retire the debt, the Texas Water Development Board may re-issue additional bonds for future water projects up to an aggregate principal of $6 billion. Supporters Say: The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) was created in 1957 to develop the state water plan and finance infrastructure improvements to water and waste water systems to improve the state's water supply. The current money available for loans to local governments to finance projects through the existing bonding authority of the TWDB will be exhausted soon and voters would need to approve the additional debt in a constitutional

amendment election for future projects. This constitutional amendment will allow the TWDB additional bonding authority but also allow the agency to issue additional bonds to finance future projects as the state and local governments retire the existing debts without having to have a future bond election. Opponents Say: This ballot proposition will expand the state's debt by $6 billion at a time when the state is near its constitutional debt limit and concerns abound over increasing public debt. Furthermore, the Legislature and voters should periodically vote to approve additional bonding authority instead of allowing the TWDB the ability to re-issue additional bonds without a vote of approval.

Proposition 3 (SJR 50): Authorize General Obligation Bonds to Finance Higher Education Loans to Students The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students." Summary: Proposition 3 will allow for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue and sell general obligation bonds to finance student loans. The total amount of the bonds authorized must be less than or equal to the total aggregate principal of previously authorized higher education student loan bonds, which is calculated to be $400 million by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. Supporters Say: Texas voters have authorized bonds totaling $1.86 billion for the HinsonHazlewood loan program through constitutional amendment elections since 1965. The Legislature sets the interest rate on these loans to ensure students pay a low amount of interest on the loans. By allowing the Higher Education Coordinating Board the ability to authorize additional bonds up to an amount of the aggregate principle once the bonds have been repaid by the students, the agency can re-authorize additional bonds for future financial assistance. Opponents Say: This ballot proposition would increase the state's debt obligation and increase government debt during a weak economy. Furthermore, higher education is not a necessity for students to attend; students should take out loans from private banks that can assess a student's risk more accurately than the Higher Education Coordinating Board. For college to become more affordable, the Legislature should control costs and administration instead of issuing additional state debt to pay for a student's education.

Proposition 4 (HJR 63): Allow Counties to Develop Transportation Reinvestment Zones The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates."

Summary: The Texas Constitution currently allows for a municipality to issue bonds to finance projects to develop transportation reinvestment zones which utilize a portion of existing property tax revenue to finance bonds for highway projects in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation, including pass-through toll projects. Proposition 4 will allow counties the same financing tools to create transportation reinvestment zones for transportation projects the county has jurisdiction over. This ballot proposition will allow for a portion of a county's property tax revenue, for a county that chooses to create a transportation reinvestment zone, to be used to finance the road construction and improvements. Supporters Say: Local governments need additional financing options to develop transportation projects. The creation of transportation reinvestment zones has proven to provide municipalities with flexibility to use a portion of their existing property tax revenues in dedicated taxing zones for road projects. The constitutional amendment will extend the same use of a transportation reinvestment zone to allow a county to use a portion of their existing property tax revenues in certain designated zones for road construction projects. Opponents Say: Counties can already use property taxes to develop and build road projects without the use of a transportation reinvestment zone. As the transportation project is developed, the properties within the zone will be appraised at a higher level which will increase the property taxes paid by those land-owners. Some of the projects currently funded by municipalities through tax increment finance zones are pass-through toll projects in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) in where the toll revenue and property taxes are used to repay bonds issued by TXDOT for the initial highway project.

Proposition 5 (SJR 26): Allow for Counties and Cities to Enter into Interlocal Agreements without the Imposition of a Tax The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund." Summary: Proposition 5 will allow for counties and municipalities to jointly administer programs, provide services, or develop long-term infrastructure without having to impose a new tax or enter into new debt. Under current law, an interlocal agreement that extends beyond one year constitutes a debt obligation which would require a tax to pay for the debt. Supporters Say: Many programs can be jointly run by a county and city less expensively with no duplication of services. Proposition 5 clarifies that interlocal contracts can be entered into for longer than one year without creating an additional debt service fund and a tax to finance the debt service. This will allow for long-term agreements between municipalities, counties, and special districts for special projects and to reduce the duplication in some services within larger metropolitan areas. Opponents Say: No apparent opposition.

Proposition 6 (HJR 109): Distribute a Portion of the Permanent School Fund Revenue to the Available School Fund The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund." Summary: The Permanent School Fund is established as a state trust that holds the proceeds from state land and mineral rights and is constitutionally managed by the School Land Board, which is comprised of the Land Commissioner and two appointees. A portion of the investment returns from the Permanent School Fund are constitutionally transferred to the Available School Fund to be used by schools to purchase instructional materials. The School Land Board currently determines the amount of the revenues from state lands, minerals, real estate investments and royalty interests that are deposited into the Permanent School Fund and are available for the State Board of Education to transfer to the Available School Fund. Proposition 6 would allow for up to $300 million of the revenues derived from land and properties to be constitutionally transferred directly to the Available School Fund by the Land Commissioner annually. Supporters Say: A recent Attorney General opinion clouded the constitutionality of the School Land Board's ability to transfer proceeds from the Permanent School Fund to the Available School Fund. This constitutional amendment clarifies that up to $300 million of the revenues from the fund may be transferred to the Available School Fund annually without harming the corpus of the Permanent School Fund investments. Opponents Say: The revenues from the School Land Board investments are currently transferred to the Permanent School Fund to allow the State Board of Education the ability to ensure the revenues are utilized to directly benefit public education. By transferring the revenues directly to the Available School Fund, the State Board of Education may not be involved in a decision to reinvest the revenues into the fund corpus to make additional investment revenue in future years, depending on the market conditions. In years in which the market is uncertain or oil and gas royalties decline, the amount of revenue available to transfer to the Available School Fund may not reach the dollar amount set in the constitution, which may jeopardize the future corpus of the fund and hurt long-term investments.

Proposition 7 (SJR 28): Allow El Paso County to issue Bonds for Parks and Recreational Facilities

The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities." Summary: Proposition 7 would allow for El Paso County to issue bonds for the purpose of developing and maintaining parks and recreational facilities and levy taxes to repay the bond indebtedness. Currently, ten other counties in Texas have this authority. Supporters Say: Proposition 7 will allow the residents in El Paso County to ability to decide to create a parks district. El Paso's population is growing and the county needs coordinated and planned infrastructure development for parks and recreation. Opponents Say: Proposition 7 will allow for the creation of a new taxing district with ad valorem property taxes and public debt in El Paso County.

Proposition 8 (SJR 16): Provide a Special Property Tax Appraisal for Open-Space Land Dedicated for Water Stewardship The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity." Summary: The Texas Constitution allows for special appraisals of open-space land for agriculture, wildlife management, and timber purposes based on the productive output of the property. Water stewardship would mean using open-space and timber land through at least three ways that promote erosion control, habitat stewardship, management of groundwater resources, and other defined methods to promote water conservation and improve water quality. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Comptroller will develop the specific qualifications for the reduced property tax appraisals. Supporters Say: This constitutional amendment will create economic incentives for landowners to partner with the state to protect water resources. During the drought conditions we are currently experiencing, tax incentives are one way for the state to use voluntary initiatives from land-owners improve water quality and conserve water supply. The constitutional amendment does not create a new tax exemption, but instead allows the legislature to provide for a property tax appraisal based on the productive use of existing open-space and timber lands if approved water stewardship activities take place on those lands. Opponents Say: Proposition 8 could create duplicative appraisal options for wildlife management valuation and existing open-space properties. Farmers and ranchers already promote water conservation out of necessity for their agriculture lands, which already receive special appraisals. The additional special appraisals would be special cases for certain openspace and timber properties that could complicate the existing appraisal methods and may not provide those land-owners any additional tax incentives.

Proposition 9 (SJR 9): Allow the Governor to Pardon a Person who has Completed Deferred Adjudication The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision." Summary: Proposition 9 will allow for the Governor to pardon a person who has successfully completed a term deferred adjudication community supervision as a punishment. A person who is granted a pardon after completing deferred adjudication would be able to apply to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to have their criminal record that resulted in deferred adjudication expunged after meeting certain requirements. Supporters Say: The Constitution currently allows the Governor to pardon those who have been convicted of a crime. Deferred adjudication cases do not carry a conviction, so the Governor cannot issue pardons for those who successfully complete their term of service. Proposition 9 will allow for an equal avenue of relief for individuals who have been convicted of a crime and those who have served deferred adjudication, but a person must wait at least 10 years before applying to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for a pardon for deferred adjudication. Opponents Say: The change in the law will also allow for a person to request an expunction of their criminal records upon a pardon for successfully completing deferred adjudication. The state should be cautious of expunging criminal records, even when a conviction has not been handed down by the court. Also, pardons are designed for those who have been convicted of crimes. In the cases of deferred adjudication, a conviction has not been given so a pardon would not be necessary.

Proposition 10 (SJR 37): Change the Length of the Unexpired Term of Elected Officials who Become Candidates for Another Office The Ballot Reads: "The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office." Summary: The Texas Constitution currently requires for an automatic resignation of the current office held by an elected official if the elected official would announce to seek another office within one year of the end of the unexpired term. Proposition 10 extends the time limit from one year to one year and 30 days for the automatic resignation due to the passage of Senate Bill 100 which advances the official filing period for state and local offices to begin in mid-November to accommodate absentee and overseas ballots. Supporters Say: Proposition 10 is necessary as the state filing deadline was moved forward from January 2 to the 2nd Monday in December to implement the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. As such, the constitutional limitation that requires an automatic resignation for a person who currently serves in one elected office but files for another

elected office is extended from 1 year to 1 year and 30 days to avoid the need for special elections to fill unexpired terms at local and district level offices. Opponents Say: The resign-to-run provision should be repealed and not simply revised to reconcile it with an earlier candidate filing period. State elected officials who seek higher elected office are not required to resign to run for that office. Local and district elected officials who announce for higher office should be treated the same as state elected officials who announce for higher office.