Voters spend billions in Nov. 6 Constitutional amendments election

AUSTIN ‘ Did you vote’ Fewer than 7 percent of Texas’ registered voters in effect spent billions of dollars in the Nov. 6 election. With all 7,307 precincts counted, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office reports fewer than a million of the state’s 12,066,242 registered voters cast a ballot in the off-year general election. Though some mayoral races and assorted other items perked up some ballots, the only statewide issues were 19 Constitutional amendment propositions. Every proposition passed, all but two by decisive margins. The biggest squeaker was Proposition 3, an issue involving tax exemptions for certain cocoa and coffee held in Harris County. Though the American Revolution had its roots in a dispute over taxation of tea, voters in Texas’ most populated county were about evenly split on the issue. The proposition carried with just 50.8 percent of the vote. The second closest vote was for Proposition 16, an amendment to adjust laws concerning home improvement loans. That carried with 57.9 percent of the votes. Of the 19 propositions approved by voters last week, the two biggest issues were Propositions 8 and 15. Proposition 8, which got 61.8 percent voter approval, will allow the state to issue $850 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a variety of improvements ranging from video cameras in police cars to remodeling and maintenance at Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities. Thirteen state agencies will net funding through the sale of bonds. Passing with a slightly larger margin (67.4 percent), Proposition 15 allows the state to pay for new highways with bond money. The program will operate through a new fund called the Texas Mobility Fund. The fund will provide leverage for construction and expansion of highways, help pay for toll roads and light rail projects. The goal is speeding up the movement of people and goods in the state. Though there is no money in the fund at present, now that the voters have given their okay, the next session of the Legislature is expected to provide the needed dollars. Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, author of the amendment, has estimated that an appropriation of $100 million for the Mobility Fund would generate $1 billion in funding. Also overwhelmingly approved by voters was Proposition 19, which will allow sale of up to $2 billion in bonds for water supply or water quality projects, as well as flood control measures. Proposition 2 will have a major impact on the border and another, Proposition 6, could have a significant impact in a future presidential election. For border residents, and anyone concerned with the plight of those who live in the colonias, the passage of Proposition 2 authorizes a maximum of $175 million in tax-supported bonds to improve the roadways leading to colonias. An estimated half million people live in 1,800 colonias along the border. By a 61.8 percent margin, Texas voters also gave the nod to Proposition 6, a measure aimed at preventing an election crisis such as Florida faced last year. The amendment requires the governor to call a special session to appoint presidential electors if the governor believed the outcome of the Texas vote could not be determined prior to the federal deadline for certifying electors.

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