Sunray voters on Tuesday approved a $5.595 million dollar bond for the construction, acquisition, renovation and equipment of school buildings in the Sunray ISD, but a $1.2 million bond for the construction and improvements of the football stadium and track didn’t pass. Proposition 1 passed 142 in favor, 80 against. The tally for Proposition 2 was 149 against, 72 in favor of it.
Across the state, Texas voters stepped up to approve all seven statewide ballot propositions, but none more important than voting themselves a long-overdue increase in their homestead exemption from school district taxes and approving a dedicated stream of new dollars for the state’s roads, The Dallas Morning News reported.
These constitutional changes are down payments on Texas’ future competitiveness, although heavy lifting remains for comprehensive school finance, property tax reform and the state’s transportation needs.
Approving Proposition 1 gives school district taxpayers a bit of financial breathing room on the taxes that are the backbone of the state’s school financing system. The homestead exemption from school taxes climbs from $15,000 to $25,000 for most eligible homeowners and from $25,000 to $35,000 for elderly and disabled Texans, the first such increases since 1997. School district taxpayers would save about $125 a year, no small amount, and the state will reimburse $1.2 billion to school districts to offset the impact of the property tax break on local budgets.
But even as every little bit helps, the Legislature and voters still await the outcome of the Texas Supreme Court’s review of a district court ruling that effectively struck down the state’s school finance system as unconstitutionally inadequate and illegal. The Supreme Court ruling, expected early next year, means that lawmakers still must come up with fixes that comply with that decision and simultaneously keep Texas competitive.
Passing Proposition 7 is an even bigger win for the state’s long-term economic viability, building from another voter-approved constitutional change last year that directed a portion of energy production taxes to help replenish the depleted state highway fund.
Now, Proposition 7 establishes two dedicated sources of state dollars for Texas roads, without raising taxes. The measure taps 35 percent of all motor vehicle sales and rental taxes in excess of $5 billion, along with $2.5 billion a year from state general tax revenue in excess of $28 billion, for road construction and maintenance. That adds up to around $3 billion a year, and more if the economy stays strong.
These dedicated revenue streams are the right solutions. Annual road costs are running into the billions of dollars, and payments on debt for transportation needs now exceed expenditures for new construction. Borrowing more or tolling aren’t viable long-term answers; hiking the gasoline tax, while logical, presents significant political problems. Adjusted for inflation, the 20-cent-per-gallon tax, unchanged since 1991, is worth a mere 9.2 cents per gallon today.
Texas is still playing catch-up on roads, education funding and property tax reform. Voter approval of Propositions 1 and 7 helps narrow the gap.
How two propositions help Texas
Gives school district taxpayers a bit of a financial break on the taxes that are the backbone of the state’s school financing system.
School district taxpayers would save about $125 a year.
The state will reimburse $1.2 billion to school districts to offset the impact of the property tax break.
Establishes two dedicated sources of state dollars for Texas roads, without raising taxes.
Provides around $3 billion a year, and more if the economy stays strong.
Builds from another voter-approved constitutional change last year that directed a portion of energy production taxes to help replenish the depleted state highway fund.