Early voting is now open for the Nov. 5 election, which includes nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, along with different regional issues depending on location. Many of the issues are easy to get behind — for instance, one proposition on the ballot would grant tax breaks to disabled veterans, and another would grant them to spouses of veterans killed in action — and others aren’t particularly relevant to most of us, such as the proposition to extend the number of days aircraft parts temporarily stored in Texas may qualify for a tax exemption. But a couple of the issues are worth your serious consideration and your vote.
The first of these, limited to Austin residents, would allow the city to borrow $65 million to put toward developing and maintaining affordable housing projects in Austin. Austin is the most expensive Texas city to live in by a margin of several thousand dollars, and the bond is sorely needed to allow many less-privileged Austinites to continue calling this city home. According to Tim League, a local housing advocate quoted on the Keep Austin Affordable website, up to 38,000 families would be forced to leave the city if the affordable housing bond doesn’t pass.
The measure has been met with opposition from the Travis County Taxpayer’s Union, which has compared it to rape and protested it by blowing rape whistles. This offensive and demeaning form of political expression makes it difficult for us to sympathize with their complaint that the bond is being brought to a vote again, even though a similar one was defeated last year.
We concur with Daily Texan columnist Chuck Matula, who wrote yesterday that those who benefit from the city’s continued expansion and gentrification “have an obligation to the people those phenomena displace.” If Austin is to truly be the great city we all want it to be, then it shouldn’t be closed off to those who cannot afford its exorbitant prices. We don’t think it’s too much to ask to divert the money to those who need it most. We endorse the affordable housing bond and urge like-minded students to support it at the ballot box.
The other issue we find especially compelling is Proposition 6, which would allocate $2 billion from Texas’ Rainy Day Fund to finance water management projects across the state, and amend the Texas constitution to set up a permanent revolving fund that could continue paying for such projects in the future.
The Rainy Day Fund is filled with extra tax revenue from Texas’ booming oil and natural gas industry, and according to the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, it has more than enough money to spare.
Moreover, the state desperately needs the initiative, as rising population and infrastructure growth continue to drain Texas’ finite water resources. According to the Texas Water Development Board, if Texas does not invest more than $50 billion by 2060, its total unmet water needs will be more than 800 billion gallons a year, or more than 15 times the amount of water used by Austin in 2009. In short, if Texas doesn’t start spending a lot of money right now, it’s going to run out of water — and once that happens, the state’s future will look extremely bleak. That’s why we endorse Proposition 6.
Our endorsement of Proposition 6 also finally answers the question, “What do Rick Perry, Nolan Ryan and The Daily Texan have in common?” as both the governor and the former Texas Rangers pitcher have come out in support of the measure.
Registered student voters have no excuse to not go to the polls, as there’s a voting location right on the way to class at the Flawn Academic Center. But out of a campus of thousands, only 76 students voted early at the FAC on Monday. Many more students should make their voices heard on issues that could do a lot of good for Austin and for Texas.
Early voting is open now and will continue until Nov. 1. After that, regular voting will take place on Nov. 5.