EDITORIAL: Amendments

Constitutional proposals garner our endorsement

Election Day is Nov. 5, and early voting has ended. It’s an off year, meaning no congressional or state legislative seats are on the ballot. However, as usually follows Texas’ biennial legislative sessions, voters are asked to decide the fate of several proposed amendments to our state Constitution. Ten propositions are on Tuesday’s ballot, and we encourage voters to help determine which, if any, will be adopted. Some could directly affect our everyday lives or the tax bill that homeowners receive every year.

We have endorsed five of the 10. Complete editorials on them appeared Oct. 22-25; they are summarized below.

>> Proposition 3 would allow officials to offer tax exemptions to property owners who are recovering from the effects of natural disasters. It would be one less financial burden, for example, for Rio Grande Valley residents who are dealing with the damage of flooding or a major storm.

>> Prop. 4 would make it more difficult to impose a state income tax by making a ban part of the Constitution.

Rescinding it would require two-thirds of both houses in the legislature to propose a new constitutional amendment, which then would go before the voters.

Texas is one of just seven states that don’t tax residents’ incomes, and is one significant reason several businesses, and wealthy entertainers and sports stars, have moved here.

It’s cited as a major factor in our state’s economic success.

>> Prop. 7 would dedicate a greater share of income the state receives from leasing public land and mineral rights toward public education. Increasing the sources of state revenue to support our schools eases the burden on property owners, who make up the shortfall between the amount of money local school districts need and the amount of money the state provides.

>> Prop. 8 would enable the legislature to create a special fund to help those recovering from disasters. It would offer one more source of financial assistance, in addition to insurance claims and aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

>> Prop. 10 would acknowledge that drug-sniffing dogs and other animals used by law enforcement and other agencies are more than property, and would make it easier for the animals’ handlers or other qualified people to adopt them.

Currently, policies on the disposition of retired or unwanted property require have led to these specialized animals being auctioned, donated or even destroyed.

The remaining propositions:

>> Prop. 1 would exempt municipal judges from the state law that allows people to hold only one elected position, thus enabling the judges to serve more than one community.

Appointed judges already are allowed to do so.

>> Prop. 2 would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in bonds to help communities fund water and wastewater projects.

>> Prop. 5 would increase the amount of state sales tax from sporting goods that would be dedicated to protecting natural areas.

>> Prop. 6 would raise the amount of bonds the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas can issue to fund its work.

>> Prop. 9 would exempt precious metals from property taxes.