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Texas Permanent School Fund Amendment, Proposition 6 (2011)

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Proposition 6
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Texas Legislature
Topic:Education
Status:Approved Approveda
The Texas Permanent School Fund Amendment appeared on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in the state of Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. Approveda

Proposition 6 made additional funding available for public education through accounting changes in the Permanent School Fund and State Land Board. It also authorized up to $300 million a year to be transferred directly from the State Land Board to the Available School Fund.

The authors of the measure were Rob Orr, Jimmie Don Aycock, Jim Pitts, John Otto, and Scott Hochberg. The formal title of the bill was House Joint Resolution 109.

Election results

See also: 2011 ballot measure election results
Texas Proposition 6
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 346,023 51.57%
No324,90448.42%

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The ballot text read:

"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."[1]

Constitutional changes

See also: Texas Proposition 6 (2011), constitutional text changes

Proposition 6 amended Section 49-b (h) of Article 3; amended Sections 2, 4, 5(a), and added 5(g) to Article 7 of the Texas Constitution; and added a temporary provision to the Texas Constitution.[2]

Fiscal note

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a fiscal note about HJR 109 to the House Committee on Appropriations on April 30, 2011.[3]

According to the fiscal note:

  • "No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated, other than the cost of publication."
  • "The cost to the state for publication of the resolution is $105,495."
  • "No fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated."[3]

Background

The Permanent School Fund (PSF) is an endowment trust established to benefit Texas public education. Proceeds from the PSF are transferred to the Available School Fund (ASF), which then distributes the funding to school districts throughout the state. The Texas Constitution dictates that no more than 6 percent of PSF investment returns can be transferred to the ASF; it also prohibits the PSF from distributing any proceeds if the principal of the fund falls below a certain benchmark.[4]

The Permanent School Fund is comprised of two sources of funding: (1) returns from investments on the fund's principal (2) proceeds from state land and mineral investments. This amendment made accounting changes to how the second source of funding (land and mineral proceeds) are distributed to the PSF. The Permanent School Fund's endowment is comprised of significant amounts of public land. Money is earned from these lands through a number of ways such as oil and gas revenues, sales, leases, etc. While the PSF owns the lands, the General Land Office is charged with the management, administration, and sale of the land. The State Land Board (SLB) is an entity responsible for handling General Land Office affairs as related to the Permanent School Fund. The SLB had the discretion to use proceeds and revenue earned from PSF land to invest in real estate if it deemed prudent.

The State Land Board decided how much of the proceeds from PSF land were transferred to the PSF. There were no minimum parameters or regulations stipulating how the State Land Board distributes those proceeds to the PSF. The SLB determined how much is distributed to the PSF for public education purposes and how much is reinvested. [4]

At the time of the election, assets managed by the School Land Board were not included in assessing the Permanent School Fund's market value. Proposition 6 would changed that by amending the constitution to include certain SLB real estate and cash assets in calculating the PSF's market value. The PSF's market value influences how much money is available to transfer to the Available School Fund for public schools each year.[4]

Proposition 6 also amended the constitution as to allow the SLB to transfer funds directly to the ASF (capped at $300 million annually), instead of sending them first to the PSF to be passed on to the PSF.

Support

Supporters

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Arguments

Supporters said:

  • Education funding is being cut and teachers are being laid off. This amendment would increase the amount of funding available for public education "changing how the total assets of the Permanent School Fund (PSF) are calculated for purposes of distributing a portion of the fund to the Available School fund (ASF)."[4]
  • In recent years the General Land Office has decreased the total funding transferred for public education spending despite its returns from successfully investing lands. In these times the schools should be getting as much of the proceeds from school lands as possible to pay for critical education services.
  • "It also would grant explicit authority to the School Land Board to distribute directly to the ASF proceeds from state land for spending on public education."[4]

Donors

According to the state campaign finance database, there were no registered committees (PACs).

(last updated December 2011)

Opposition

Arguments

Opponents said:

  • The accounting changes put forth in this amendment offer a short-term increase in public education funding, but would actually decrease the total amount of education funding in the long-run. The Permanent School Fund is structured to be an endowment; reducing the principal of the fund lowers future investment returns, thus lowering future public education transfers.[4]
  • The GLO should have the discretion to invest land funds in the way it sees fit for the interests of the state without limitations on how much it has to put towards schools.[4]
  • We Texans, a limited-government and economic freedom advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 6. In an October 19, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "The Permanent School Fund was established for the support of public schools in this state. The Texas Constitution limits the amount of money that may be transferred from the Permanent School Fund to the Available School Fund each year to 6% of the average market value of the Permanent Fund. One virtually needs a degree in finance to understand the complex language of this proposal but it would change the manner of calculating the market value of the Permanent School Fund. This proposition would make a larger amount of money available for transfer to the Available School Fund consequently reducing the amount available for investment growth in the Permanent School Fund."[5]
  • Empower Texans, a limited-government advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 6. In an October 7, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "By allowing state government to take more money from the PSF in the short term, this amendment would endanger the principal of the fund thereby compromising future school funding."[6]
  • Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative and pro-family advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 6. In an October 7th, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "Many legislators have wanted to use the PSF to help make up shortfalls experienced by Texas in previous biennium budgets, but the constitution has prevented this effort. This amendment would allow this access through the GLO. Legislators were so sure of the passage of this amendment, that the extra $300 million was included in the next biennium budget."[7]

Donors

According to the state campaign finance database, there were no registered committees (PACs).

(last updated December 2011)

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2011

Support

  • The Dallas Morning News supported Prop 6: In a October 16, 2011 editorial the Dallas Morning News supported Proposition 6 stating that "The Texas Legislature used various accounting maneuvers this year to ease cuts in the no-new-taxes state budget. Voters will have the final say on one of them, Proposition 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Passage wouldn’t produce a windfall, but neither would it raise taxes or compromise state finances. We urge support. "[8]
  • The San Antonio Express-News said,"Amending the Constitution should not be considered the solution to the state's public school finance crisis. The courts and the Legislature still need to resolve that. This proposition provides a much-needed infusion of funding for education while preserving the principal in the state's public school endowment."[9]
  • The Austin Chronicle said,"The income from sales and leases of property and royalties that must currently be returned to the corpus of the fund (where they can generate interest revenue for subsequent distribution) would under this amendment be available for direct distribution to the permanent school fund, which lends greater flexibility to the fund."[10]
  • The Corpus Christi Caller-Times said, "The Caller-Times Editorial Board recommends approval of all 10, and urges that all registered voters exercise their right to vote...Proposition 6...The Permanent School Fund goes by several names within the Constitution and this amendment would eliminate the confusion. It also would provide more potential funding to schools for classroom instructional materials and technology."[11]
  • The El Paso Times said, "The proposition would clear up constitutional language concerning the Permanent School Fund and would help provide support for public schools. After the recent Legislature debacle concerning school funding, this is a good idea."[12]
  • The Statesman said, "Ten proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution are on the ballot for your approval or disapproval. We recommend you vote for all 10."[13]

Opposition

  • The Conroe Courier of Montgomery County opposed Prop 6: In a October 22, 2011 editorial the Conroe Courier of Montgomery County recommended voters oppose Proposition 6.[14]
  • The Lufkin News said, "There is no doubt our public schools could use this money, but we would rather see the Legislature take real action instead of playing shell games with the PSF. For that reason we recommend a vote against Proposition 6 to send a message to the legislature that we need real public education financing reform."[15]
  • The Burka Blog, written by senior editor for the Texas Monthly Paul Burka, opposed Proposition 6. In an October 18, 2011 post he stated "The idea of letting the Legislature take money out of the endowment for public education gives me heartburn. Who knows how the Lege might spend the money? Remember when Craddick, Dewhurst, and Perry were talking about an infrastructure bank for toll roads?"[16]
  • The Star-Telegram opposed Prop 6.[17]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

The measure was passed by the Texas State Legislature on May 26, 2011, and was filed with the Texas Secretary of State May 27, 2011. HJR 109 passed the Texas State Senate by a vote of 31-0[18] and passed the Texas House by a vote of 143-0.[19]

As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate. SJR 4 was passed the Texas State Senate by a vote of 29-2.[20]

Timeline

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The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
House vote May 26, 2011 House voted 143-0 in favor of the proposed measure
Senate vote May 26, 2011 Senate voted 31-0 in favor of the proposed measure
Certified May 27, 2011 Measure received by the Secretary of State for the 2011 ballot

See also

By Jimmy Ardis
Texas state writer

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Articles

External links

References

  1. Texas Secretary of State, "Explanatory Statements for the November 8, 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election"
  2. Texas Legislature,"HJR 109 - Prop 6," accessed October 27, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fiscal Note on HJR 109 prepared by the Texas Legislative Budget Board
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 [*Texas House Research Organization: "Focus Report for Amendments Proposed in November 8, 2011 Election," July 20, 2011
  5. We Texans," "PROPOSITIONS VOTERS’ GUIDE: Just Say No," October 19, 2011
  6. Empower Texans," "2011 Constitutional Amendments," October 7, 2011
  7. Texas Eagle Forum, "Analysis of Propositions on November 8th 2011 Ballot," October 7, 2011
  8. Dallas Morning News, "Vote yes on Proposition 6," October 16, 2011
  9. San Antonio Express-News,"Proposition 6 increases public school funding," October 13, 2011
  10. Austin Chronicle,"'Chronicle' Endorsements and Election Info," October 21, 2011
  11. Caller-Times,"10 unexciting but worthwhile reasons to vote," October 24, 2011
  12. El Paso Times,"Propositions: No. 7 affects only El Paso," October 23, 2011
  13. Statesman,"Voters, approve all 10 constitutional changes," November 1, 2011
  14. Conroe Courier of Montgomery County, "Vote against Props 7 and 8 on Nov. 8 ballot," October 22, 2011
  15. The Lufkin Daily News,"EDITORIAL: A review and our recommendations on 5 amendments to our state constitution," October 26, 2011
  16. Burka Blog, "The proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 18, 2011
  17. Star-Telegram,"Texas Constitution needs more attention," November 6, 2011
  18. Texas Senate[ Journal May 21, 2011]
  19. House Journal MAy 23, 2011
  20. Texas Senate Journal: 82nd Legislature, April 28, 2011