Ballot propositions explained

Ballot-box

by A.C. Hall

Being a midterm election, the ballot local voters will see when heading to the polls is filled with statewide races and issues as well as the local races.  Voters in White Settlement will also see one statewide proposition at the end of the ballot, while Fort Worth voters will see one statewide proposition and three City of Fort Worth propositions.

The statewide proposition that all local voters will see on the ballot is Proposition 1 and it reads “The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.”

This proposition would authorize annual movements of funds from the state’s oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund.  Estimates released show that around $1.7 billion would be moved from the oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund in the first year alone.

The money that would be moved, should this proposition pass, was previously going into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, better known as the rainy day fund.  Currently receiving seventy-five percent of the state’s oil and gas production tax collections, the rainy day fund would instead receive just half that amount with the other half going to the State Highway Fund.

Those in favor of the proposition point to the growing traffic problems in the state, saying that while it won’t solve everything, the funds from Proposition 1 would represent a big step in that direction.  Underlining the need for this extra funding, pro Proposition 1 websites state that Texas has $5 billion per year in unmet transportation needs and that there will be another 18 million vehicles on Texas roads by the year 2040.

Those against Proposition 1 often stand on budget issues, saying that the State should be funding roads in the regular budget, not raiding other funds to make it happen.  They also call attention to a recent decision to allow money from the rainy day fund to be pulled out for water infrastructure issues, saying that also allowing money to be pulled from the fund for roads would further weaken the rainy day fund.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Dallas Morning News have both endorsed Proposition 1 and encourage their readers to vote in favor of it.

For Fort Worth voters, you’ll also be faced with three local propositions, all pertaining to the construction of a new multipurpose arena in Fort Worth near the Will Rogers Memorial Center.  The proposed arena would seat 14,000 and is expected to cost around $450 million.  Half that amount is supposed to be raised by a non-profit group, but the other half of the funding will come in part from money raised via the three ballot propositions.

Fort Worth proposition 1 will ask voters if they’ll support adding a ten percent tax onto tickets sold at the new arena should it be built.  Proposition 2 will ask voters if they’ll support a livestock facility use tax not to exceed $20 on any pen or stall at the venue that is used during events.  Proposition 3 will ask voters if they’ll support a $5 parking tax on any vehicle that parks at the venue or at a parking structure that services the venue.

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