The Nov. 5 election is coming up, and our legislators have again tinkered with the Texas Constitution.
According to the information provided as a public service by the Legislative Reference Library website, the Texas Constitution is one of the longest in the nation, and is still growing.
Since 1876, and through Nov. 7, 2017, the legislature has proposed 680 constitutional amendments; and 677 have gone before Texas voters. Of these, 498 have been approved by the electorate, 179 have been defeated, and three amendments never made it to the ballot.
While not looking to evaluate the past 498 adopted amendments or propositions, I would like to know if adopted amendments resulted in measurable benefits to us. Do we really know if what we approved helped us — were the propositions beneficial to us, and if so how?
As such, I would like to focus on just these specific constitutional amendments regarding the Texas Water Development Board:
• The Nov. 6, 2007, ballot included Proposition 16: To provide for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the development board in an amount not to exceed $250 million to provide assistance to economically distressed areas. Proposition 16 passed with 61 percent of the votes.
• The Nov. 8, 2011, ballot included Proposition 2: To provide for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding. Proposition 2 passed with 51.5 percent of the vote.
• The Nov. 5, 2013, ballot included Proposition 6: To create 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. About $2 billion would be withdrawn from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund — “the Rainy Day Fund.” Proposition 6 passed with 73 percent of the vote.
On Nov. 5, we’re again asked to consider Proposition 2: To provide for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the development board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.
Unquestionably, water issues are critical, but so is the use of our money. So, in considering our vote regarding Proposition 2, it seems that we should be made aware of some related issues, such as:
• How effective have these previous programs been?
• How have we spent the funds amounting to $8.250 billion as approved in 2007, 2011 and 2013? If any funds remain, how will they be used?
Finally, it seems to me that all these amendments are procedural. The Texas Constitution should be developed and written as a “policy” document defining the “what needs to be done.” Leave the “how to accomplish” to a local level government “procedure.” Therefore, our effort should be directed to redesign our constitution instead of tinkering with more amendments.