On many ballots in Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties, residents will vote only on 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Among the amendments is a proposition prohibiting the state from imposing or collecting an individual income tax.
There is no current constitutional bar on imposing or collecting an individual income tax, according to state officials.
Striking down Proposition 4 does not mean the state will impose an income tax. A vote of “against” means that the state constitution will not be amended, according to the Texas Legislative Council.
In an analysis of the constitutional amendments, the Texas Legislative Council pointed out that, according to Section 24, Article VIII of the constitution, in order for an income tax to be enforced in the state of Texas, the measure would have to be approved by a majority vote in a statewide referendum, and any revenue could be used only to lower property taxes and fund education.
All constitutional amendments on the ballot are:
Proposition 1 (H.J.R. 72)
“The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
If the amendment passes, it would make it easier for smaller municipalities to fill vacant positions, according to an analysis by the Texas Legislative Council.
“This would help improve public safety and produce a fairer and more efficient judicial system,” the analysis said.
Opponents say elected judges holding the position in multiple municipalities may not be able to dedicate adequate time to the concerns of a given municipality, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Proposition 2 (S.J.R. 79)
“The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”
Supporters say bonds are a more reliable source of funding to combat the cost of maintaining and expanding water infrastructure, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Opponents say infrastructure improvements should be funded through general revenue, according to the analysis.
Proposition 3 (H.J.R. 34)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”
Supporters say a temporary tax exemption would be cheaper, simpler and easier to administer than the current reappraisal method, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
“A tax exemption will provide property tax relief in a more expeditious manner than reappraisal of the property,” the analysis said.
Opponents say the tax exemption could deprive local governments of adequate funding, according to the analysis.
Proposition 4 (H.J.R. 38)
“The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”
Supporters say H.J.R. 38 would provide a clear prohibition of an individual income tax in the future, and it would help continue to grow the state’s economic success, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Opponents say H.J.R. 38 is unnecessary and the current constitutional restrictions are adequate to safeguard against an income tax. They also say the ban would block the potentially less-regressive revenue option, according to the analysis.
Proposition 5 (S.J.R. 24)
“The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”
Supporters say the state park system has been underfunded, leaving the parks unable to “safely and adequately accommodate visitors,” according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis. They say the increased revenue would provide parks the money they need to improve maintenance, safety, and staff numbers.
Opponents say the amendment would prevent the legislature from using a portion of the revenue for other purposes, such as balancing the budget or responding to an emergency, according to the analysis.
Proposition 6 (H.J.R. 12)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”
Supporters say the increased bond amount would give the institute the money it needs to effectively conduct future research, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Opponents say an increase of the bond amount would “unduly” increase the state’s debt, according to the analysis. They also say the institute has not exhausted the original $3 billion in funds.
Proposition 7 (H.J.R. 151)
“The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
Supporters say increasing the annual distribution would “improve funding for public schools when sufficient revenues are available,” according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Opponents say schools could end up with lower funding because of the relationship between the General Land Office and the State Board of Education and their joint responsibility of the Permanent School Fund, according to the analysis.
Proposition 8 (H.J.R. 4)
“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
Supporters say creating the fund outside of the general revenue fund would “better protect money needed for flood projects from being redirected for other purposes,” according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis. They say it would also help the state prepare for and recover from disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.
Opponents say the current federal funding and state financing sources are “sufficient to support the necessary flood projects without establishing another special fund in the constitution,” according to the analysis.
Proposition 9 (H.J.R. 95)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
Supporters say taxing precious metal puts depositories and precious metal owners at a competitive disadvantage since other states do not, according to the Texas Legislative Council analysis.
Opponents say if the amendment passes, the government could pick economic winners and losers. “Using the tax system to encourage the purchase and holding of precious metal puts the government in the position of picking winners and losers in the economy,” the analysis said.
Proposition 10 (S.J.R. 32)
“The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
Supporters say the amendment would be in the best interest of the animals. “Law enforcement animals generally live with their handlers while in service,” said the Texas Legislative Council analysis. “Making it easier for such an animal to retire to the home where it has lived its entire life is in the best interest of the animal.”
There were no comments of opposition for this amendment, according to the analysis.