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Texas Bonds for Construction Projects, Proposition 4 (2007)

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Texas Proposition 4 appeared on the November 6, 2007 in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Proposition 4 would authorize $1 billion in general operating bonds to be issued for maintenance, repair and construction projects.

Proposition 4 appeared on the statewide November 2007 ballot in Texas along with fifteen other statewide propositions; all of them passed. All sixteen ballot measures were legislative referrals voted onto the ballot by the Texas State Legislature.


Because the Texas Constitution, Art. 3, Sec. 49 prohibits state debt, state bonds are generally issued to finance state projects. The Texas Finance Authority (TPFA) is the agency responsible for distributing the bonds. Currently the TPFA can only issue up to a max of $850 million in bonds, Proposition 4 would increase that to $1 billion. It would allow these bonds to be issued to the following departments:

  • Texas Building and Procurement Commission:
  • Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Adjutant General's Department
  • Department of State Health Services
  • Department of Aging and Disability Services
  • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Texas Youth Commission
  • Texas Historical Commission
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
  • Texas School for the Deaf
  • Department of Public Safety

Supporters Say

This would help to finance long-term projects, such as construction and repair. The $1 billion would not be allocated at once, but stretch out over a period of time. The largest portion, $273.4 million, would be dedicated to building three new prisons, which will need additional capacity in the next five years.

  • New prisons must first receive the approval of the Legislative Budget Board before these bonds could go to building a prison

Opponents Say

Proposition 4 would give the legislature a blank check. Only $717 million of the bonds have been appropriated for projects which leaves nearly $300 million being spent with no voter input. Also, repairs should not be paid with general operating bonds. Repairs are a predictable cost that should be included in the agencies budget. They are also too short useful like that does not warrent the long lasting debt it would take to finance them.

Opponents also believe that new jails should not be financed. As of TDCJ will have 152,736 beds available combined with the large increases in resources for numerous prison diversion and treatment programs. These will be more cost efficient than building new prisons that would cost $18.9 million annually.

Statements of Support

Peter Holt, Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, has written an editorial in the Statesman supporting the proposition and advocating that Austin voters support it.[1]

Republican State Senator, Steve Ogden has also voiced his support of the measure saying, "This capital investment pays for important infrastructure, buildings, utilities and maintenance that are desperately needed across the state."[2]

Opposition in the community

Scott Henson, from the gritsforbreakfast blog, said:

"It may be one place where Texas voters should tell their legislature, sorry, but no. Please go back to the drawing board — and if you want to build new prisons, be honest about it. Don’t sugar-coat it by lumping it into a catch-all bond proposal."[3]

and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has also opposed Proposition 4. Ana Yanez-Correa, head of the coalition said, "If we're really serious about meeting public safety needs -- about meeting Texas' needs in general, let's not rely on debt."[4]

A Taxpayer's Perspective from the National Taxpayers Union

Proposition 4 would devote $1 billion in new bonded debt toward construction projects and equipment.

Election results

Proposition 4
Approveda Yes 627,609 58.2%

Text of measure

The short ballot summary voters saw on their ballot read: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects and for the purchase of needed equipment."[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

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.==See also==

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