Propositions give Texans plenty of reasons to head to the polls

It’s not your usual election-no representatives, senators or judges will be elected-but it’s still a vote worth casting. Texas constitutional amendment elections generally don’t receive the kind of high profile media attention next year’s races for statewide office are already receiving, but it’s an election that will help set the course for state government for the next several years. In fact, previous years turnout for these elections-an estimated 8% of registered voters in 1999, for example-is nothing to brag about. Frankly, 8% turnout is just plain pathetic. The reality is, these elections are important, and in 2001, most Texans have at least 19 good reasons to show up at the polls. The 19 propositions that fill the ballot of the upcoming November 6th election are far-reaching and stand to impact every Texan-and future generations of Texans to come. Whether its roads or water, the choices voters will make address key issues tied to our short and long-term quality of life. Propositions 2, 15 and 19-in particular-deserve special attention. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) estimates that over 17 million vehicles travel over 400 million miles per day on Texas roads. The traffic these vehicles produce places an incredible strain on the state’s infrastructure. As the state’s population grows, so will the demand for new roads and transportation routes. Considering TxDOT only has the resources to meet 36% of the projects Texas needs, part of the challenge is finding new, innovative funding mechanisms to pay for the roads and their upkeep. That’s why the Texas Mobility Fund makes sense. Proposition 15 would establish The Mobility Fund which in turn would supplement existing state and federal highway revenues without jeopardizing either. By voting “yes,” Texans will set into motion a funding mechanism that will not only help ensure highway improvement projects are finished sooner, but it keeps locally-generated road dollars in the community. And, when you consider for every $1 million spent on highway construction 42 new jobs are created for Texans, Proposition 15 really will keep Texas moving. Proposition 2 does more than just keep Texas moving, it provides access for a great many Texans living in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. More than 1400 homes comprise the colonias-low-cost, rural residences with substandard utilities and an almost non-existent infrastructure. Voting “yes” for Proposition 2 allows for the issuance of up to $175 million in bonds aimed at connecting these rural areas to public roads. Approval means up to 2000 miles of access roads could be built, connecting literally tens of thousands of Texans to essential city and county services they’ve long been without. It means school buses will be able serve the children in the colonias. Providing roads for these communities is vital to improving public health and safety and will do much to further economic development in these areas. The challenges Texas will face in the coming years aren’t just about roads and transportation. It’s also about one of our most precious natural resources-water. Long periods of drought and a growing Texas population make it hard for water supplies and aquifers to keep pace with demand. That’s why Proposition 19 deserves support. Yes to Proposition 19 means the Texas Water Development Board, a state body tasked with managing regional and statewide water planning, will be able to expand their bonding authority. Proposition 19 allows for the issuance of up to $2 billion in additional general obligation bonds to assist local entities in developing critical water projects. Of course, conservation is an important part of any water plan, but Texans should understand that we’ll also need significant improvements in our infrastructure to meet the basic needs of a population that’s expected to double over the next 50 years. Whether you’re for or against these propositions or the 13 other proposed amendments, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on-the importance voting. There are at least 19 good reasons to turnout at the polls on November 6th-make sure your voice is heard.

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