Following are my positions on the ballot propositions in Texas for the November 2019 election. I have a few principles I adhere to when identifying my positions for each of these items:
- In general, debt should be used rarely, if ever, and should always be specifically approved by the people or by the legislature.
- Taxation should be equal in its application and wealth in all its forms should never be taxed.
- Political power should remain with the people or the legislature when possible.
With that in mind, the propositions on the ballot, what it means relative to the above principles, and how I intend to vote.
Prop 1: “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
Right now municipal judges can only work in one municipality. I can imagine a scenario where several small municipalities in an area come together to hire a single judge. The administrative burden for these small communities would be reduced, making room for more services or lower taxes for the citizens of these municipalities.
Prop 2: “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.”
This proposal gives the TWDB the authority to issue bonds, so it violates part of the first principle. However, it also funds projects that could help economically distressed areas in infrastructure projects that could lead to further economic development.
Prop 3: “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.”
This item violates the principle of taxation should be applied equally. Every chip at property tax revenue for special groups (veterans, retirees, those affected by natural disasters) chips away at the resolve of the people to eliminate this pernicious tax on wealth. I will never vote in favor of any reduction in a wealth tax applied unequally. In this case the property tax will be applied unequally.
Prop 4: “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.”
Here, the people have spoken. And we don’t even want the legislature to have the power to tax incomes, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Prop 5: “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.”
The Legislature should have to live up to its own rules and then face the consequences of those rules with the electorate. This proposition aims to do just that.
Prop 6: “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.”
I was against the establishment of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute when Rick Perry got it on the ballot. The Institure has had, ahem… “ethical,” problems in the funding of projects in the past, so now the State Legislature is recommending rewarding that bad behavior with more money. Also, this is not one of those “rare” cases where debt is supporting infrastructure.
Prop 7: “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
There is always the possibility of abuse when more money is authorized to a bureaucratic entity. But this seems to be transferring money from one entity to another.
Prop 8: “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.”
Flood control is one of those rare instances where financing infrastructure is appropriate.
Prop 9: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
The Legislature seeks to prevent itself from taxing wealth. Precious metals are a form of wealth. Additionally, the way this proposition reads assumes that precious metals are also money in that they can be used to secure a loan. The Legislature also wants to prevent itself from initiating a transaction tax.
Prop 10: “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
This is more than a constitutional amendment about property, but it could save the state a small amount of money in the care of these animals upon their retirement. It is also about animal welfare. And for that reason: