Prospective changes to Texas Constitution could grant Perry more power, affect taxes

The Associated Press

Voters will be asked to approve or reject 10 proposed changes to the Texas Constitution on Nov. 8, including one that would exempt the surviving spouses of or totally disabled veterans from paying property taxes after the veteran dies, the Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday.

Lawmakers voted to put 10 propositions on the ballot during the legislative session that ended in May. Texas voters must now decide which of the propositions will become constitutional amendments.

One proposal would allow the governor to grant pardons to people who successfully complete alternative criminal sentences within their communities, effectively giving them a second chance at life without a felony conviction on their record. Voters will also decide whether the General Land Office can change how it calculates the value of the public school fund and allow the office to take additional revenue from and make more money available to schools.

Another amendment would change how property taxes are calculated on land set aside for water conservation. Four propositions deal with issuing bonds for the Water Development Board, student loans, redevelopment projects and conservation districts in El Paso County.

Other propositions would change the length of unexpired terms for local officials running for another office. One would allow cities and counties to work together in new ways.

The Texas Constitution strictly defines what the state can and cannot do without voter approval, requiring frequent votes on even minor changes in how the state does business. As a result, Texas has one of the longest and most frequently amended constitutions in the world.


Below is the text of the propositions, and their numbers:

PROPOSITION 1 — The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.

PROPOSITION 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 $6 billion at any time outstanding.

PROPOSITION 3 — The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.

PROPOSITION 4 — The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.

PROPOSITION 5 — The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.

PROPOSITION 6 — The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.

PROPOSITION 7 — The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.

PROPOSITION 8 — The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

PROPOSITION 9 — The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.

PROPOSITION 10 — The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Prospective changes to Texas Constitution could grant Perry more power, affect taxes .