November 4, 2019
Austin American-Statesman | By American-Statesman Editorial Board
Your voice matters. Please use it Tuesday at the ballot box.
The issues being decided in this election touch our lives: State funding for schools, state parks and cancer research; as well as the use of taxes paid by hotel guests to improve the Austin Convention Center and the Travis County Exposition Center, both of which could bring more visitors and spending to our economy. With one question on the ballot you can even make life easier for retiring police dogs and their caretakers.
Here is a recap of the American-Statesman Editorial Board’s recommendations on the propositions facing voters, with links to the full editorials on each topic.
State constitutional amendments
Vote FOR Prop 1 to allow municipal judges to serve multiple cities at once if voters elect them to the bench. This would help smaller towns that don’t need their own full-time judge.
Vote FOR Prop 2 to allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in general obligation bonds to help local governments build and improve water supply and sewer services.
Vote FOR Prop 3 to allow residents in a disaster area to be exempt from some or all property taxes for that year.
Vote AGAINST Prop 4, a measure that would make it even harder to impose a state income tax, something that is already very unlikely. This measure’s flawed wording could allow courts to kill the business franchise tax, which raises billions of dollars for public education and other programs.
Vote FOR Prop 5 to guarantee all sales tax revenue from sporting goods purchases would go toward maintaining state parks and historic sites — something lawmakers have long promised and largely failed to do.
Vote FOR Prop 6 to allow the Legislature to issue another $3 billion in general obligation bonds to fund cancer research and prevention, an effort that is saving lives and generating economic activity for Texas.
Vote FOR Prop 7 to allow two agencies — the State Land Board and the State Board of Education — to put more of their investment income into a fund that supports school districts.
Vote FOR Prop 8 to create a $793 million fund to finance local flood drainage, mitigation and control projects.
Vote FOR Prop 9 to ensure precious metals stored at a bullion depository will be exempt from property taxes. No jurisdiction charges such taxes now; keeping it that way will prevent these investments from going out of state.
Vote FOR Prop 10 to let law enforcement officers adopt their police dog when the animal retires, cutting through red tape that currently requires a third party to facilitate such adoptions.
Vote FOR Prop A to allow the county to collect a 2-cent portion of the hotel tax to revamp the Travis County Exposition Center, once Austin is done with the tax. An upgraded Expo Center could be an economic catalyst for a part of Travis County that has been neglected for too long.
City of Austin
Vote AGAINST Prop A, a measure requiring voter approval of any lease of city property for a sports or entertainment venue, and requiring that venue to pay property taxes. Sparked by critics’ concerns over last year’s Major League Soccer stadium deal, Prop A could create costly unintended consequences for nonprofit arts and community recreation facilities, such as the Long Center and the YMCA, that lease city land.
Vote AGAINST Prop B, a measure to dramatically reduce the amount of hotel tax revenue supporting the Austin Convention Center and require a public vote before a major expansion. Austin already puts the maximum hotel tax dollars allowed to cultural arts and historic attractions. Prop B can’t deliver more funding to such projects, but it would block a Convention Center expansion that would bring more revenue to Austin.
Vote FOR Prop A, a $412 million bond for about a dozen road projects, including road widening projects and intersection improvements.
Vote FOR Prop B, a $35 million bond for parks improvements, including new trails, restrooms and picnic pavilions.
Both are worthy sets of projects for fast-growing Williamson County. Voters should know, however, there is a cost. The county won’t raise its debt service tax rate to pay for Prop A and B bonds. As homes increase in value, though, that same tax rate will produce a larger bill for property owners.