The measure, which was sponsored in the legislature by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-4), asked voters whether an amendment should be implemented to create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT) to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan. Approximately $2 billion will be withdrawn from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) - colloquially referred to as the Rainy Day Fund - to finance the newly created funds. Proposition 6 authorized the transfer or deposit of state revenue into the funds, however it did not itself make the transfer or deposit of money into either fund. See the Enabling legislation section below for more information on how SWIFT and SWIRFT will be funded. The measure was known as Senate Joint Resolution 1 in the legislature. HB 4 was the enabling legislation for SJR 1.
This ballot measure article has preliminary election results. Certified election results will be added as soon as they are made available by the state or county election office.
The money in the ESF, or Rainy Day Fund, is generated primarily by taxes on oil and natural gas production in the state. In 2001, in his first state of the state speech, Gov. Rick Perry (R) said the ESF is insurance against trying economic times and that it should not be depleted. However, in 2013, Gov. Perry said, "We need to maintain a strong Rainy Day Fund. While we cannot — and we will not — raid that fund to meet ongoing expenses, we also shouldn’t accumulate billions more than is necessary."
Economic conditions were not the only factors being considered as a result of Prop 6; weather conditions were as well. In 2011, Texas experienced the worst year-long drought in the state's history. Rains in mid-September 2013 helped alleviate dry conditions in certain parts of the state, however approximately 93 percent of the state remained in the drought, with conditions ranging from dry to exceptionally dry. John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and State Climatologist, said, "Until the rain event on Sept. 19-20, , Texas reservoirs were one or two days away from setting an all-time record for the gap between the amount of water stored and the storage capacity." Nielsen-Gammon also explained that due to long-term temperature patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the drought had the potential to continue for five to 15 years.
The Texas Water Development Board was tasked with adopting a state water plan that addresses the development, management and conservation of water resources and details a plan of action if and when drought conditions occur. The plan's purpose is to ensure that Texas does not face a water shortage that would be detrimental to its residents, economy, growth and natural resources. One of the plan's recommendations was for the legislature to "develop a long-term, affordable, and sustainable method to provide financial assistance for the implementation of the plan." Supporters said that this would be accomplished by the creation of SWIFT and SWIRFT, the vehicles by which the water plan would be financed.
Texas Secretary of State, John Steen selected the order of the nine ballot measures for 2013 at random. The nine approved amendments were added to the Texas Constitution, the longest state constitution in the country. As of 2011, the state legislature has put 653 amendments before voters since 1876, of which 474 were passed. LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair Linda Krefting, had this to say about the nine constitutional amendments: "The issues at stake affect all Texans now and in the future, from property tax exemptions to funding the water state plan. Given the significance of the issues and relative permanence of constitutional amendments, voters need to understand each of the propositions to cast an informed vote."
Proposition 6 was placed on the ballot via SJR 1. However, HB 4 was the enabling legislation for SJR 1. Enabling legislation is a bill passed into law by the Texas Legislature that authorizes an exemption for prior contracts or bids. HB 4 detailed the way in which the proposed water funds are administered, including how projects are prioritized for funding and the portion of the money disbursed from the fund that is to be applied for various purposes. HB 4 should not be confused with HB 1025, which actually appropriated the $2 billion out of the Rainy Day Fund to SWIFT and SWIRFT so the Texas Water Development Board can finance projects in the state water plan. HB 4 technically went into effect on September 1, 2013. If Prop 6 was not approved by voters, the sections implemented by HB 4 would not have had any effect. Read more about enabling legislation here.
Bills related to Prop 6:
SJR 1 put Prop 6 on the ballot. It asked voters whether or not two funds - SWIFT and SWIRFT - should be created to aid in the financing of important state water projects.
HB 4 was known as the enabling legislation for SJR 1. HB 4 explained how the money in the newly created funds would be used and how projects would be prioritized.
HB 1025 was a supplemental appropriations bill which addressed a variety of issues; however, this was the piece of legislation that actually transferred the $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund, or the ESF, to SWIFT and SWIRFT, upon Prop 6's approval.
Text of measure
The ballot was printed to permit voting for or against the proposition:
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.
The money from the ESF is used only in support of projects for the State Water Plan. The Water Development Board, the agency that oversees the fund, allocates 10 percent of the funds for "rural political subdivisions and agricultural water conservation" and 20 percent for general water conservation and reuse.
Items that the money may be put towards includes::
Credit enhancement agreements
Deferral of interest obligations
Funding for government entities that develop and manage water supplies
According to TexasFuture.com, spending of the funds is prioritized: "Both regional planning groups and the state must prioritize projects when they are needed, project viability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. The highest priority must be given to projects that serve a large population, promote regionalization, and have a large local contribution."
Fiscal impact statement
According to the fiscal impact statement for SJR 1, which was released on May 23, 2013, "No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated, other than the cost of publication. The cost to the state for publication of the resolution is $108,921."
However, according to the fiscal note of HB 4 - Prop 6's enabling legislation - which was released on May 18, 2013, the estimated two-year net impact to general revenue related funds for HB 4, as determined by the Conference Committee Report, was negative $4,354,390 through the period ending August 31, 2015. Furthermore, "The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill."
Since voters approved Prop 6, $2 billion was transferred from the Rainy Day Fund, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund, to SWIFT and SWIRFT, per Section 33 of HB 1025. The fiscal note for HB 1025 stated that, per the Conference Committee Report, a negative impact of $1,014,898,328 is expected through August 31, 2015. However, HB 1025 addressed appropriations of money to and from a variety of funds. Therefore, only a portion of this cost is attributed to the transfer from the Rainy Day Fund to SWIFT and SWIRFT. The following charts are from the fiscal note on HB 1025, depicting the fiscal impact over six years. The potential fiscal impact that results from Prop 6 is detailed in the two columns that refer to the Economic Stabilization Fund.
The fiscal note for SJR 1 stated, "No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated." The fiscal note for HB 4 states the following regarding the impact on local governments: "The bill would provide local entities with subsidized financing for projects eligible for TWDB funding. Based on a hypothetical SWIFT portfolio model provided through the House Committee on Natural Resources, it is estimated that approximately $750 million in new assistance would be provided each year beginning in fiscal 2015. According to TWDB, this would provide for approximately 30 projects to be financed annually."
The fiscal note for HB 1025 stated that the bill would have a fiscal impact on local governments, however none of the impacts would be the result of the money transferred out of the Rainy Day Fund.
The arguments presented in favor of Prop 6 in the state's official voter guide were constructed by the Texas Legislative Council. The arguments featured were based on comments made about the amendment during the legislative process and generally summarized the main arguments supporting the amendment. They read as follows:
"Ensuring an adequate water supply is vital to the public health and continued economic well-being of the state. The current ongoing drought, coupled with the water needs of the state's growing population, has raised the specter of critical shortages in the state's water supply, making it of paramount importance that the state invest in water infrastructure to ensure Texas' continued prosperity. If the state's growing water needs are not addressed, the state stands to suffer from the loss of over a million jobs, billions of dollars in lost income, reduced economic activity, and decreased tax revenues in the coming years."
"The proposed amendment establishes the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas, which are to be capitalized by a one-time appropriation of $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund, for the purpose of financing water projects included in the state water plan. Using money from the economic stabilization fund for water infrastructure is an appropriate use of the fund, which was created as a savings account from which the legislature can appropriate funds as necessary to respond to emergencies such as the current drought, and will provide a better return on investment than if the money were lift in the fund. Such a use of money from the fund will neither harm the state's credit rating nor hinder the state's ability to respond to an emergency."
"Ensuring an adequate water supply is essential to the public and economic health of Texas. These two funds provide a sustainable mechanism for funding water development projects with an initial transfer of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to seed a revolving cash flow for making loans for water projects."
"Responding to the current drought emergency is an appropriate use of the Rainy Day Fund and will provide a better return on investment than if the money were left in that fund."
"Without the necessary funding for priority projects in the state water plan, Texas stands to lose millions of jobs and suffer reduced economic activity and decreased tax revenues."
Other arguments in support of the measure included:
Heather Harward, executive director H2O4TEXAS, said, "The 83rd Legislature has given you the opportunity to make a difference. Proposition 6 will be doing more for water today and tomorrow than we've done for almost two decades."
Rep. Lyle Larson (R-121) argued that the state's reputation was already suffering with prospective businesses due to long-term drought. He said that companies looking for opportunities in Texas often inquired about water availability before they even considered a move. Referencing the state's long standing water issues, he said, "We've got to change the psychology on how we address water issues. If we continue the path of the past 30 years of build nothing, we will get nothing."
Governor Rick Perry (R) also argued that water conservation is an economic issues. He stated, "Make no mistake. Other states are watching what we're doing here. When we compete with them for an expansion or a relocation site for major employers, you'd better believe that the status of water is part of the conversation."
The website TexasFuture.com, which refered to itself as a grassroots organizing entity, said this regarding the importance of the measure: "Texas population is expected to double over the next 40 years. With current groundwater supplies declining, certain areas of the state will experience significant shortages in the absence of developing new supplies. The State Water Plan encompasses over 4500 projects with a range of strategies including reuse, conservation, new reservoirs, development of new groundwater supplies, desalination, and more. Without new supplies, another major drought could be devastating to Texas’ economy and jobs."
Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-121) criticized opponents who said this was an issue of limited government. He commented, "[A]s a lifelong Republican, I strongly believe in limited government, but I also know a crisis when I see it. And that's exactly what our water shortage has become."
The following charts detail contributions that were made in support of Prop 6:
The arguments presented in opposition to Prop 6 in the state's official voter guide were constructed by the Texas Legislative Council. The arguments featured were based on comments made about the amendment during the legislative process and generally summarized the main arguments supporting the amendment. They read as follows:
"The economic stabilization fund should not be used to capitalize the two funds to be created by the proposed amendment. Instead, such funding should come from the general revenue fund. Drawing down funds from the economic stabilization fund to capitalize the two funds may negatively affect the state's credit rating and leave the state inadequately equipped to respond to future emergencies. Furthermore, constitutionally dedicating the money used to capitalize the funds is merely an accounting gimmick designed to enable the legislature to avoid the constitutional limit on spending of undedicated state revenue."
"These two new funds are unnecessary as there already exist two constitutionally dedicated water development funds as well as several financial assistance programs for water infrastructure administered by the Texas Water Development Board. Through the two new funds, the state would act like an investment bank, and it is not the state's role to be in the commercial investment banking business. Financing for local water projects should be provided not by the state but by the users benefiting from those projects. Instead of funding new projects and initiatives, the state should ease regulatory burdens that currently hinder the development of an adequate available water supply in the state."
According to the League of Women Voters of Texas, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, arguments in opposition to the measure included:
"These two new funds are unnecessary as there is already avilable funding for water development projects administered by the TWDB."
"While TWDB needs to proceed with priority projects, taking money from the Rainy Day Fund is inappropriate. Reducing the amount in this fund could reduce the state's excellent credit rating and affect the state's ability to respond to a natural disaster or other emergency situations. The legislature should make a separate appropriation from the general fund."
"The state should not take on the financing of water plan projects. Financing should be provided by those benefiting from the projects."
Texans for Public Justice, a non-profit government watchdog organization, criticized the measure as "crony capitalism": 
“A major defect of Prop. 6 is that the lawmakers who proposed it this year also fired the Texas Water Development Board and directed Governor Perry to appoint three new people to oversee the proposed $2 billion fund. Rather than pick the state’s best and brightest water wonks, Governor Perry appointed three loyalists who already were Perry employees or appointees,” stated TPJ.
TPJ deemed Gov. Perry (R) to be “the consummate crony capitalist,” saying, “... the governor appoint[ed] three Perry puppets to control a $2 billion water infrastructure fund. Notably absent are checks and balances to stop this from becoming the next political slush fund of a governor who would be president.”
They argued that the fund's means were determined by moneyed interests, noting, "Conservation is the cheapest, most efficient solution to Texas’ water crisis. Yet Prop. 6’s drafters pledged only that overseers of the $2 [million] ‘shall undertake to apply’ 20 percent of the money to conservation. Conservation is politically unsavory for two reasons. First, it imposes water belt-tightening on regular Texans as well as the powerful, thirsty interests behind Water Texas PAC: frackers, power plants, chemical plants and developers. Second, conservation favors a smaller scale that involves small businesses that don’t drive our crony-capitalist state."
Other arguments against the measure included:
Opponents argued that placing the $2 billion fund in a constitutional amendment would allow supporters to dodge having the amount count towards the state's spending cap.
Empower Texans opposed Proposition 6. They said, "Removes $2 billion from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (rainy day fund), to incentivize new local-government debt without providing sufficient protections on the spending."
TribLive: Larson and Puente on Proposition 6
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, opponents of Proposition 6 gathered at a Bastrop, TX convention center, marking the first official event for those opposed to the measure. Linda Curtis - president of the non-partisan political action committee, Independent Texans, and organizer of the event - extended an invitation to supporters of Prop 6, in hopes of arranging a debate on the measure. However, no one from the two main Prop 6 support campaigns - H2O4Texas and Water Texas - accepted the invitation. Though there was no debate, various speakers came forward to speak out against Prop 6, including Rep. David Simpson and the Director of the Texas Drought Project, Alyssa Burgin.
After the Dallas Morning News published a story about the event, a spokesperson from Water Texas reached out to the paper with the following statement:
"The fact that Texas lacks an adequate water supply to meet our growing economic and population demand is not debatable. That’s why Water Texas is focused on educating Texans about the importance of supporting Proposition 6 to meet our state’s long-term water needs in a fiscally responsible way. We represent a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of elected officials and industry, business, conservation and agricultural leaders, who have volunteered their time to get the word out to Texans in advance of the November 5th election."
The Austin Chronicle said, "The recent deluges cannot hide the fact that Texas is in a drought. Even if it ended tomorrow, there is no guarantee the state's water pipes and reservoirs could supply its ever-swelling population. The Texas Legislature has spent decades ignoring the leaks in the infrastructure, and Prop. 6 helps redress that. It creates the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and pulls $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund into its coffers. From there, it will be loaned out at low rates to local and regional government authorities to invest in vital and long-overdue infrastructure restoration, replacement, and construction. The projects in question have already been identified by the Texas Water Development Board, and the cash should put a dent in Texas' needs for the next 50 years."
The Dallas Morning News said, "In essence, that is what Proposition 6 on the November ballot is all about. The state has a thoughtful, far-reaching water plan. The document contains 562 unique water projects. They include creative water conservation plans, state-of-the-art desalination projects and needed new lakes. Together, they would help each region of the state find enough water for their communities... So, Texans need to be sure to turn out and pass this amendment. Without it, the droughts will win."
Houston Chronicle said, "We agree with the governor and, on this issue at least, disagree with Mark Twain. "Whiskey's for drinkin', water's for fightin'," the venerable author and humorist allegedly remarked. That's true, particularly in Texas, but on Proposition 6, there's nothing to fight about. Support for the measure is support for a secure water future."
San Antonio Express-News said, "We often think of crises as sudden acts of God or terror, and many are. But our water situation, as evidenced by the drought, and made worse by our growth, is a long-term crisis. Failing to provide clean water across Texas, would be a severe blow to this state's economic and public health. Invest in Texas' future. Vote yes on Proposition 6."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "Lost income, jobs and tax revenue could cost many times that amount if these projects aren’t done and there’s another record drought. The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting for Proposition 6."
The Burnt Orange Report endorsed Prop 6, saying, "Texas must act now to invest in water infrastructure, or else we may not have enough water to meet the needs of our state. Several towns and smaller jurisdictions are already close to running out of water, and the situation is already more dire than most Texans realize. The best first step to addressing this crisis is voting FOR Proposition 6 on this year's ballot. We unanimously and enthusiastically endorse a vote FOR Proposition 6 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections."
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to email@example.com
Reports and analyses
Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association published a study on the condition of the state’s Rainy Day Fund just prior to the vote on Proposition 6, titled “The Rainy Day FundFlood: What the Oil and Gas Comeback Means for Texas.” Due to a rebound in oil and gas production in Texas, the Rainy Day Fund would be “flush for some years to come.” $2.5 billion was deposited into the Rainy Day Fund in 2013, setting an all-time record. TTARA President Dale Craymer said, “Those trends will continue over the next several years.” The state government’s request for new uses of some of the fund for water projects “should not threaten [the fund’s] financial vitality.” Though the amendment was passed, the report anticipated that the fund will continue to grow and set new records.
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