By Greg Ritchie
EAST TEXAS – When lawmakers in Austin knew they had a multi-billion dollar budget windfall to spend, there was no shortage of ideas, lobbyists and proposals of how to spend the money. The Republicans who control the Austin decided to make some of them permanent in the form of constitutional amendments so they could not easily be voted out by future legislatures.
There were 14 propositions on the ballots as Houston County residents came out to vote Tuesday, Nov. 7, along with the rest of the state. Houston County Election officials reported lower-than-average turnout – with no big-name local or national candidates on the ballot – but otherwise, no issues or problems to report. The votes are considered “unofficial” until certified.
By far the one most talked about was proposition four, which will limit increases on property appraisals and would raise the homestead exemption from local school taxes from $40,000 to $100,000, estimated to save the average homeowner $1,200 per year.
Here is a summary of how Houston County and Texans voted on the propositions:
Proposition 1 – PASSED 79%
- Creating an amendment that would protect the right to engage in farming and ranching, designed to assist rural areas against suburban encroachment.
Proposition 2 – PASSED 65%
- Allows local governments to lower property taxes for child care facilities.
Proposition 3 – PASSED 68%
- Prohibit individual wealth or net worth tax.
Proposition 4 – PASSED 83%
- $18 billion dollar exemptions to lower property taxes.
Proposition 5 – PASSED 66%
- Texas university fund.
Proposition 6 – PASSED 78%
- Texas water fund.
Proposition 7 – PASSED 65%
- Texas energy fund.
Proposition 8 – PASSED 69%
- Broadband infrastructure fund.
Proposition 9 – PASSED 84%
- Cost of living increase for retired teachers.
Proposition 10 – PASSED 55%
- Exempt medical or biomedical companies in Texas from property taxes on equipment and inventory.
Proposition 11 – PASSED 63%
- Permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County.
Proposition 12 – PASSED 53%
- Abolish position of county treasurer in Galveston County.
Proposition 13 – NOT APPROVED 63%
- Increase mandatory retirement age from 75 to 79 for state justices and judges.
Proposition 14 – PASSED 77%
- Creating a fund to create and improve state parks.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]