Texas Constitutional Election Confusion & Voters’ Guide: Setting the Record Straight

Oct 23, 2009
Topic: Update

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaABR712ap8]As many of you know, there are 11 Texas Constitutional Amendments on the ballot.  Early voting continues until October 30th with the general election day on Nov. 3rd.

  CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO OUR FREE, NONPARTISAN VOTERS’ GUIDEhttp://www.freemarket.org/Img/2009%20Constitutional%20Amendments%20Voters’%20Guide.pdf

Click here for the Texas House Research Organization’s detailed analysis of each constitutional amendment. http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/framer2.htm

Unfortunately, many emails are being circulated with false information that certain propositions in the 2009 Texas Constitutional Amendments election would create a new state tax, by Propositions 2, 3 and 5.  However, Propositions 2, 3, and 5 relate to proposed reform of property tax and appraisal standards, and  DO NOT create a new state tax.

Propostion #2 further explained: currently, a homeowner is entilted to claim one home as a “residence homestead.”  However, the law allows property appraisers for tax purposes, to appraise your “homestead” at a value that could be higher than the value of the home, for just basically being used as a home, to live in.  This is commonly called the “highest and best use” practice.  The legislature explained it this way ” “This widely accepted standard allows homes to be valued based on the property’s potential use rather than the property’s current use.” This means the “homestead” value could be affected by surrounding commericial development which increases the value of the “homestead” if were to be used for commericial development instead of as a homestead.  However, this means it is likely that tax revenues will drop for the taxing entity if the homestead values are not appraised at a higher value.

Proposition #3 further explained: Currently property tax appraisals practices are determined by their local county, and can vary widely across the state, with similar property being appraised by different standards because they are located in different parts of the state.  Their is no direct oversight or enforcement powers of the state to ensure uniform, consistent appraisal practices statewide.  This amendment would allow the state to have such authority.

Proposition #4 further explained: Texas currently has 3 “tier-one” schools.  UT-Austin, Texas A & M, and Rice. A “tier-one” school is  is used to describe the status associated with high-performing research universities. Some attributes of these institutions include membership in the American Association of Universities; at least $100 million in federal research grants annually; the size of endowments; the quality of the faculty and the number of faculty with membership in one of the national academies; the number of faculty awards; the number of doctorates awarded; and selective admissions”, according to the Texas House Research Organization (HRO).

Just below that are schools considered to be next in line to be a “tier-one” university, which are considered “emerging research universities.”  They are: Texas Tech, UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas, UT-El Paso, UT-San Antonio, University of Houston, and University of North Texas, according to the HRO.

So, proposition #4 allows separate funding to be used to help only these 7 universities above to get closer to achieving “tier-one”status.  Some believe that having more “tier-one” universities will attract more talented and productive workers to Texas.  Others believe this approach discourages reliance on private funding and increases the reliance on taxpayers for such efforts.

See our video explanation here for more detail.

Republican and Democratic House Members agree on this.  Click here for Republican House Member Ken Paxton’s analysis of the confusion.  http://travismonitor.blogspot.com/2009/10/propositions-2-3.html  Click here for Democratic House Member Aaron Pena’s analysis of the confusion. http://www.acapitolblog.com/

Email us at legislative@freemarket.org if you have more questions.

Share this: