Texas Ballot: Propostion 6 – Funding Water in Texas (WatrNews.com 9-12-13)

Proposition 6 is going on the Texas Ballot for November. Supporters claim it should be passed because ?it {is} of paramount importance that the state invest in water infrastructure to ensure Texas? continued prosperity.? (Texas Legislative Council, 2013) Opponents of Proposition 6 claim that ?drawing down funds from the economic stabilization fund to capitalize the two funds may negatively affect the state?s credit rating and leave the state inadequately equipped to respond to future emergencies.? (Texas Legislative Council, 2013)

One of the key elements of Proposition 6 is the restructuring of water financing across the state.

Proposition 6 reads as follows:

Proposition 6 also known as (SJR 1) The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) , State House Representative Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) and State Senator Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)

SJR 1 was approved by the Texas House and Texas Senate and because it is amending Article III of the Texas Constitution it had to be placed on the ballot to be voted on by Texas citizens. Voting day is November 5, 2013.

The Legislative Budget Board?s summarized the bill?s function in its Fiscal Note on the Amendment:

Under the amendment?s provisions (1) the Legislature by general law would prescribe the manner in which the assets of the fund may be used and could provide for costs of investment of the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund to be paid from that fund; (2) in each fiscal year in which amounts become due under the bonds, or agreements authorized by this section, the revenue deposited to the credit of this fund is sufficient to pay the principal of, the interest on, and any costs related to the bonds that mature or become due during the fiscal year; (3) any obligation authorized by general law to be issued by TWDB pursuant to this section would be special obligations solely from amounts in the fund and obligations issued by TWDB may not be a constitutional state debt payable from the general revenue of the state; (4) any dedication or appropriation of revenue credited to the fund may not be modified to prevent impairment of any outstanding bonds; (5) money in the fund would be considered dedicated by the Constitution for the purposes of Section 22, Article VIII, Texas Constitution (Legislative Budget Board 2013)

According to the bill?s final text and certification by the Secretary of State, the Senate sponsored and originally passed the bill on April 23, 2013 with a vote of 31 yeas and 0 Nays. It was sent to the House where amendments were made. S.J.R. No. 1 was adopted by the House, with amendments, on May 22, 2013, by the following vote: Yeas 130, Nays 16, one present not voting. The Senate concurred in House amendments on May 26, 2013 with the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0. (Senator Williams, Senator Ritter and and Senator Pitts 2013)

Kel Seliger, Senator for District 31, asked for support for Proposition 6 in an August 27th Op-Ed where Seliger wrote:

Prop 6 is the constitutional amendment which creates the State Water Implementation Fund (SWIF) to assist in the financing of priority water projects and ensure the availability of adequate water resources. Texas plans for future water needs with a 50-year window. The state does this through the State Water Plan, which is compiled by the Texas Water Development Board through locally established regional water planning areas. Locals have pinpointed specific water projects to help ensure supply and demand are met, and the Legislature has identified money to fund these projects, but the voters of Texas must first approve the creation of the SWIF. This is where your support for Prop 6 is critical ? if it fails to pass then money for these future water infrastructure projects will simply not be available. (Seliger 2013)

The availability of water could be a critical issue in the future of Texas. Pass or fail, the vote on proposition 6 will have an effect on the future of water in Texas.