Pros & Cons of the Nov. 5th Constitutional Amendment Election
Proposition 1 (HJR 62) 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 member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.
- PROS: The surviving spouses of service members killed in action are as deserving of a residence homestead property tax exemption as the surviving spouses of totally disabled service members, who were extended such an exemption just two years ago.
- CONS: If the legislature continues to expand the categories of property owners who receive property tax exemptions, local governments may have to raise property taxes in order to generate the same amount of revenue.
Proposition 2 (HJR 79) The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.
- PROS: Would shrink state government since both are defunct.
- CONS: None
Proposition 3 (HJR 133) The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.
- PROS: Texas is one of the few states that still assesses an inventory tax, a fact that places state businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Prop. 3 would extend the tax exemption period on storing aircraft parts in the state and provide more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers, which often hold parts in inventory for an extended period of time.
- CONS: Instead of granting extensions, the legislature should consider eliminating the antiquated and punitive inventory tax.
Proposition 4 (HJR 24) The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.
- PROS: Prop. 4 would apply only to veterans who were disabled during their military service and who received a home from a charitable organization. This tax exemption would be appropriate considering the sacrifices made by these veterans.
- CONS: Singling out specific groups for property tax exemptions could erode local property tax bases and undermine uniformity in taxation.
Proposition 5 (SJR 18) The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.
- PROS: Texas is the only state in which seniors cannot get reverse mortgages. Under current law, seniors have to purchase a home with a conventional mortgage and then take out a reverse mortgage on equity in the new home. Prop. 5 would allow Texas seniors to combine these steps into a single transaction, thereby saving money on closing costs and allowing them to move into a new home without a mortgage payment.
- CONS: Loosening these restrictions by allowing reverse mortgages for the purchase of homes could make Texans more vulnerable to future financial difficulties.
Proposition 6 (SJR 1) The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.
- PROS: Ensuring an adequate water supply is vital to the public health and continued economic well-being of the state. The amendment would create two funds to help finance key
- projects in the state water plan by pulling about $2 billion from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund).
- CONS: Taking $2 billion out of the fund could result in a credit downgrade and curtail the state’s ability to deal with a revenue shortfall. Spending Rainy Day funds for infra-structure projects that already have access to capital would be inappropriate, given that education and transportation are also taking from the fund. Instead the state should ease regulatory burdens that currently hinder the development of an adequate available water supply in the state.
Proposition 7 (HJR 87) The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.
- PROS: Would allow home-rule municipalities to choose how to fill city council vacancies. This amendment removes the requirement to hold a mandatory and costly special election for those positions.
- CONS: Prop. 7 could increase the opportunity for corruption in local government by allowing city officials to avoid elections and appoint political allies.
Proposition 8 (HJR 147 and SJR 54) The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.
- PROS: Prop. 8 would remove a provision in the Texas Constitution that sets the maximum tax rate for districts in Hidalgo County at 10 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property value. This rate is far lower than the rate available to other Texas counties. The 83rd Legislature enacted HB 3793, which includes procedures for Hidalgo County to create a hospital district with a maximum tax rate of 75 cents per $100 property valuation. The amendment would allow local officials and voters to create a sorely needed hospital district.
- CONS: Prop. 8 could open the door to an increase taxes for Hidalgo County property owners.
Proposition 9 (SJR 42) The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
- PROS: Would authorize the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use additional disciplinary actions–including public admonition, warning, reprimand or required additional training– against judges or justices after a hearing. The current law allows the SCJC to issue a public censure or recommend a judge’s removal or retirement.
- CONS: Current constitutional provisions are appropriate because they help ensure that formal proceedings are used only in the most serious cases of alleged judicial misconduct. This protects the confidentiality of judges and shields them from public exposure resulting from unwarranted allegations and from those unhappy with the results of a case or from political opponents.