Texas Water Development Bonds Amendment, Proposition 2 (2011)

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Proposition 2
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Texas Legislature
Topic:Bond issues
Status:Approved Approveda
The Texas Water Development Bonds Amendment, Proposition 2, 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 2 allowed the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional bonds as long as no more than $6 billion are outstanding at any one time.

The authors of the measure were Troy Fraser, Juan Hinojosa and Glenn Hegar. The formal title of the bill was Senate Joint Resolution 4.

Election results

See also: 2011 ballot measure election results
Texas Proposition 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 347,614 51.52%
No327,07648.47%

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The ballot text read:

“The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”[1]

Constitutional changes

See also: Texas Proposition 2 (2011), constitutional text changes

Proposition 2 added Section 49-d-11 to Article 3 of the Texas Constitution.

Fiscal note

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a fiscal note about SJR 4 to the House Committee on Natural Resources on May 2, 2011.[2]

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."[2]

Background

Texas drought conditions: yellow represents abnormally dry areas; dark red represents exceptional drought conditions. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Record-breaking droughts and devastating wildfires reeked havoc on the Lone Star State in 2011. The Lower Colorado River Authority reported that "the 11 months from October 2010 through August 2011 have been the driest for that 11-month period in Texas since 1895.”[3] Economists estimate over $5.2 billion just in agricultural losses as a result of the prolonged drought.[4] Texas will continually be forced to face the realities imposed by extreme climate conditions intersecting sustained population growth. This had many Texans thinking about their state's ability to adequately supply them with water in the coming years.

Lawmakers seeking solutions to ever-worsening shortages placed two water-related constitutional amendments on the November ballot, one of which was Proposition 2. Proposition 2 allowed the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional bonds as long as no more than $6 billion were outstanding at any one time. The amendment had an "evergreen provision" that allows the Board to continually issue bonds without seeking further voter approval as long as the $6 billion cap isn't surpassed.

Support

Supporters

Arguments

Supporters of SJR 4 said:

  • Proposition 2 should be passed because providing the Texas Water Development Board additional funding authority is required if the state's water planning and financing agency is to meet the steadily rising demand placed on Texas by population growth and climate. Without the increased bonding ability the TWDB will not be able to meet the state's water needs in the next two years. Funding shortages could also compromise the TWDB's ability to provide matching funds required to obtain federal grants, further reducing the state's water capacity.[8]
  • Proposition 2's "evergreen provision" allows the TWDB to authorize bonds on an ongoing basis, as long as the total amount of bonds outstanding at any one time does not exceed $6 billion, without having to incrementally increase funding through costly constitutional amendment elections.[8] Texas will face a continuing trend of rising population and a drier climate over the coming years, increasing the likelihood of water shortages. The ability of the TWDB to financially meet the water demands of the state is critical.[8]
  • TWDB bonds do not depend on or utilize general revenue. They are self-supporting, paid for through usage and impact fees.[8]

Donors

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $186,100[9]
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $0

The following were contributions made to the campaign in favor of the measure:[10]

Donor Amount
Texas Association of Realtors $1,889,133.40*
H204Texas PAC $186,100

* NOTE: It is unclear how much of the Texas Association of Realtors 2011 PAC funds were directed explicitly to Proposition 2.

(last updated December 2011)

Opposition

Opponents

  • Texas Public Policy Foundation[5]
  • Representative Van Taylor voted against SJR 4.[11]
  • North Texas Tea Party[12]
  • Clear Lake Tea Party[12]
  • Tyler Tea Party[12]
  • Texas Eagle Forum[12]
  • Texas Tea Party Patriots[12]
  • Galveston Tea Party[12]

Arguments

Opponents of SJR 14 said:

  • Proposition 2 would authorize long-term state debt on a continuing basis, something that has been traditionally done through the voters at the ballot box. The power to review the need for such funding should be retained by the voters on a periodic basis. Also, while Proposition 2 limits the amount of bonds outstanding at any one time to $6 billion, the cumulative total over time could surpass that mark.[8]
  • If the legislature wants to fund water projects it should pay for them through passing legislation to increase taxes and fees, and not just "put it in on the credit card."[13]Bond financing is debt; and debt is back-ended tax. The legislature should face the voters with direct taxation if they want to fund these projects.
  • Empower Texans, a limited-government advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 2. In an October 7, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "This amendment authorizes the TWDB permanent bonding authority without having to come back to the voters for permission to sustain that debt, regardless of circumstances. The creation of a system of permanent debt is not responsible."[14]
  • Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative and pro-family advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 2. In an October 7th, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "This amendment gives additional spending authority to a government bureaucracy. Voters should retain as much authority as possible with such large amounts of money."[15]
  • We Texans, a limited-government and economic freedom advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 2. In an October 19, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "This proposal would create a revolving line of credit to the Texas Water Development Board. This line of credit would be secured by the Texas taxpayer. Government debt should be taken very seriously and approved on an as needed basis by the voters at the time of the need. To establish a revolving line of debt for an appointed state board and saddle Texans in perpetuity with that debt is unjust."[16]

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 San Antonio Express-News supported Prop 2: In a September 18, 2011 editorial the San Antonio Express-News supported Proposition 2 stating that "severe drought in Texas demonstrates the importance of water supply planning and should all but guarantee the passage of Proposition 2 in November.[17] Noting the difficulty the state has had finding funding for projects to meet the objectives in its 14 year-old water plan, the editorial stated "Texas desperately needs to start making significant progress enacting the state water plan. With the state's population projected to double by 2050, an estimated 83 percent of Texas' population will not have adequate water supply during droughts."[17]
Bond issues on the ballot in 2011
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  • The Dallas Morning News supported Prop 2: In a October 9, 2011 editorial the Dallas Morning News supported Proposition 2 stating that "With Texas’ population doubling by 2060, and droughts challenging water supplies, Texans clearly need to finance water projects. Proposition 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot will help immensely. The constitutional amendment would let the Texas Water Development Board maintain programs that help communities finance initiatives, such as those dealing with sewage water, water storage and flood control. "[18]
  • The Conroe Courier of Montgomery County supported Prop 2: In a October 22, 2011 editorial the Conroe Courier of Montgomery County supported Proposition 2 stating "Proposition 2 would provide for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board up to $6 billion at any time outstanding without having to go before voters for approval...The Courier supports Propositions 1 and 2 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot."[19]
  • The Lufkin News said, "However, even though water is a limiting factor, our state will continue to grow. Many of the past loans have been for wastewater treatment facilities. The program has worked and we recommend a vote for Proposition 2."[20]
  • The Houston Chronicle said, "With Prop 2, Texans could spend more money on infrastructure and less on interest. No state tax dollars would be needed. And the local savings would show up in lower water bills."[21]
  • The Austin Chronicle said,"A statutory cap inevitably requires raising, so we can expect eventually to return to the polls on this proposition. However, this law would actually improve on the previous practice of setting a specific, one-time bond limit and requiring a return to the voters whenever it was reached (currently within $266 million of that limit). As long as the TWDB manages the funds responsibly (there was consensus testimony that it has done so), the fund should be flexible enough for some time."[22]
  • 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 2...The drought should make clear the need for this one. Local governments are trying to meet growing water needs, they need money to do it and this is how to get it."[23]
  • The El Paso Times said, "Water and water infrastructure are critical to Texas' future, and the TWDB makes low-interest loans for water projects. It's conceivable that at some point El Paso could benefit from these loans. Underfunding water projects would be a serious mistake."[24]
  • 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."[25]
  • The Star-Telegram supported Prop 2.[26]

Opposition

  • The Burka Blog, written by senior editor for the Texas Monthly Paul Burka, opposed Proposition 2. In an October 18, 2011 post he stated "This flies in the face of the pay-as-you-go principle. The Legislature doesn’t have the courage to pay for the water plan, so we just put it in on the credit card. There are plenty of ways to pay for the water projects we need without going into debt–taxing bottled water, for one; a tap fee on water for home consumption for another. I know I’ll hear from my friend Allan Ritter, but I’m going to vote no. Going into debt is a tax increase. You have to pay off the bondholders."[27]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

The measure was passed by the Texas State Legislature on May 9, 2011, and was filed with the Texas Secretary of State on the same day. SJR 2 passed the Texas State Senate by a vote of 30-1[28] and passed the Texas House by a vote of 141-1.[29]

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.[30]

Timeline

Calendar.png

The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
House vote May 9, 2011 House voted 141-1 in favor of the proposed measure
Senate vote May 9, 2011 Senate voted 30-1 in favor of the proposed measure
Certified May 9, 2011 Measure received by the Secretary of State for the 2011 ballot

See also

By Jimmy Ardis
Texas state writer

Jimmy Ardis photo.jpg
EmailSubmit a link

Articles

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. Texas Secretary of State, "Explanatory Statements for the November 8, 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fiscal Note on SRJ 4 prepared by the Texas Legislative Budget Board
  3. Scientific American, "The Coming Crisis Over Water," September 27, 2011
  4. AgriLife Today, "Texas agricultural drought losses reach record $5.2 billion," August 17, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Texas Tribune, "Business Groups Back Texas Water Ballot Measure," October 5, 2011
  6. Businessweek, "Texas Faces Billions in Water Costs as Drought Imperils Economy," October 14, 2011
  7. The Conroe Courier, "Water financing key to Prop. 2," October 20, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 [*Texas House Research Organization: "Focus Report for Amendments Proposed in November 8, 2011 Election," July 20, 2011
  9. Note: The Texas Association of Realtors donated $1,889,133.40 on the support side of this issue, but it is unclear how much of this money was spent directly on Proposition 2.
  10. Texas Ethics Commission, "Search Campaign Finance and Lobby Reports," accessed November 7, 2011
  11. "Texas Legislature House Journal," May 5, 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 North Texas Tea Party, "Vote on the Constitutional Amendments; Now – TUESDAY Nov. 8th," Vote on the Constitutional Amendments; Now – TUESDAY Nov. 8th," October 25, 2011
  13. Burka Blog, "The proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 18, 2011
  14. Empower Texans," "2011 Constitutional Amendments," October 7, 2011
  15. Texas Eagle Forum, "Analysis of Propositions on November 8th 2011 Ballott," October 7, 2011
  16. We Texans," "PROPOSITIONS VOTERS’ GUIDE: Just Say No," October 19, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 San Antonio Express-News, "Water bonds proposal merits voter approval," September 18, 2011
  18. Dallas Morning News, "Proposition 2 will help Texas meet its future water needs," October 9, 2011
  19. Conroe Courier of Montgomery County, "Vote against Props 7 and 8 on Nov. 8 ballot," October 22, 2011
  20. The Lufkin Daily News,"EDITORIAL: Our review and our recommendations on amendments to our state constitution," October 25, 2011
  21. Houston Chronicle,"Editorial: Yes on Prop 2," October 21, 2011
  22. Austin Chronicle,"'Chronicle' Endorsements and Election Info," October 21, 2011
  23. Caller-Times,"10 unexciting but worthwhile reasons to vote," October 24, 2011
  24. El Paso Times,"Propositions: Amendments would affect El Paso," October 22, 2011
  25. Statesman,"Voters, approve all 10 constitutional changes," November 1, 2011
  26. Star-Telegram,"Texas Constitution needs more attention," November 6, 2011
  27. Burka Blog, "The proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 18, 2011
  28. Texas Senate[ Journal April 28, 2011]
  29. House Journal MAy 5, 2011
  30. Texas Senate Journal: 82nd Legislature, April 28, 2011