October 15, 2023

November 7th Election – How Andy will Vote on Constitutional Amendments

Many voters have asked me how I will vote on the 14 proposed constitutional amendments on the Tuesday, November 7th ballot. Here is a rundown of how I plan to vote on Election Day, along with my rationale. Hopefully this will be instructive for you about how I view the role of government in our lives.

Proposition 1 – FOR

“The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture and wildlife management.”

  • Our American and Texas framers believed that our rights were innumerable and that our Bills of Rights should never be seen as a finite list.
  • The right to farm is natural and inalienable.
  • That said, I believe the verbiage of this amendment, though vague, is likely harmless and I would not vote against it.

Proposition 2 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.”

  • There are many good and beneficial types of businesses which would benefit from reduced taxation.
  • Government should not be in the business of picking winners or losers amongst businesses.
  • There is no requirement to pass on saving to families.

Proposition 3 – FOR

“The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual wealth or net worth tax, including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.”

  • Some may argue that this proposition is unnecessary, but per Article 1 Section 29, by enshrining this language in the Bill of rights, it makes this right “inviolate” from legislative action.
  • Taxes on wealth are immoral. We should support this amendment.

Proposition 4 – FOR

“The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to establish a temporary limit on the maximum appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes; to increase the amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation by a school district applicable to residence homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000; to adjust the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes imposed on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect increases in certain exemption amounts; to except certain appropriations to pay for ad valorem tax relief from the constitutional limitation on the rate of growth of appropriations; and to authorize the legislature to provide for a four-year term of office for a member of the board of directors of certain appraisal districts.”

  • This will not ultimately provide long-term tax relief to homeowners due to rising appraisals, but will provide some desperately needed short-term relief.
  • Will increase the accountability of some appraisal board members.

Proposition 5 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment relating to the Texas University Fund, which provides funding to certain institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities and drive the state economy.”

  • Fund not subject to the state spending cap.
  • Takes $412 MILLION from the Rainy Day Fund in the first year and up to $100 MILLION thereafter.
  • Texas already funds universities.

Proposition 6 – CONDITIONALLY FOR*

“The constitutional amendment creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state.“

  • This fund would not be subject to the state budget cap.
  • Cost to taxpayers is $1 BILLION.

My reservations on this issue:

  • The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is made up of members who are appointed by the Governor (not elected). This will put unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of distributing very large sums of money.
  • In general, I am opposed to the creation of new funds like this, which allows the legislature to cede its authority to appropriate funds from General Revenue transparently (and per our spending cap).

The “situation on the ground:”

Many rural counties, including Wise County, have profound water challenges. We are on the edge of the portion of the state that receives regular rainfall, and yet we do not have adequate surface water supplies. Growth in our county is increasingly reliant upon groundwater reserves which are limited. Rural cities do not have the tax base to fund some of the expensive projects which cities to our East would not have had to entertain (such as reverse osmosis plants to generate fresh water from poor reserves).

Final thoughts:

  • Water and roads are undeniably reasonable functions of government.
  • This is a stop-gap solution that does not fully address the profound water problems facing our state.
  • Actually solving our water issues will be an engineering undertaking in the context of a statewide plan. Merely creating new funds or new water districts along political boundaries largely represent political theater.
  • And yet, counties like Wise do not have the luxury of waiting two years for a complete solution.
  • Once again, our Legislature has failed to actually solve the problem and are asking Texans to make do with the scraps we are given.

*If elected, I will propose legislation next session that will make membership in the TWDB an elected office, like the State Board of Education.

Proposition 7 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the Texas energy fund to support the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of electric generating facilities.“

  • Cost will be borne by taxpayers rather than ratepayers.
  • This fund will not be subject to the budget cap.
  • Costs taxpayers $5 BILLION.

Proposition 8 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.“

  • Fund not subject to state budget cap.
  • Will cost taxpayers $1.5B in addition to the hundreds of millions already allocated by Texas
  • Providing high speed broadband is not a proper function of government. Government is competing with private enterprise after decades of over-regulation.

Proposition 9 – FOR

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.“

  • Retired teachers desperately need help and we need to vote for this proposition.
  • Cost: $3.355B

Proposition 10 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation equipment or inventory held by a manufacturer of medical or biomedical products to protect the Texas healthcare network and strengthen our medical supply chain.

  • There are many good and beneficial types of businesses which would benefit from reduced taxation.
  • Government should not be in the business of picking winners or losers amongst businesses.
  • Will also cost Texans $29 MILLION in 2 years and then $40 MILLION per the each succeeding year.

Proposition 11 – AGAINST

“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.“

  • I oppose this proposition because if passed the amendment will create a new taxing entity with the power to increase public debt.

Proposition 12 – FOR

“The constitutional amendment providing for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County.“

  • I am in favor of this proposition because it ultimately reduces the size of government in Galveston County.

Proposition 13 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment to increase the mandatory age of retirement for state justices and judges.“

  • We need all generations to be able to participate in elected office in our Republic.
  • Will instantaneously expand the tenure of many judges and will, for the next four years arbitrarily discourage younger challengers from seeking offices held by incumbents.

Proposition 14 – AGAINST

“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used for the creation and improvement of state parks.“

  • Texas already has a State Parks and Wildlife department with a budget funded by the Legislature.
  • Fund not subject to the budget cap.
  • Will cost taxpayers $1 BILLION.