Voters across the state will be voting on 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on November 7, 2023. These ballot propositions range from providing a cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers to establishing a state broadband fund for financing broadband expansion in Texas.
Texas AFT is taking a position on Propositions 3, 5, 8, and 9. Our position and a summary of each amendment is included below:
Proposition 3: OPPOSE
- Proposition 3 (HJR 132) Prohibits the legislature from imposing a tax based on the wealth or net worth of an individual or family, ultimately limiting the amount or revenue that could be used for public schools and public universities.
Proposition 5: SUPPORT
- Proposition 5 (HJR 3) Redesignates the national research university fund as the Texas University Fund (TUF) and appropriates funds from the economic stabilization fund (“Rainy Day Fund”) to the TUF. This change will significantly increase available funding to public universities.
Proposition 8: SUPPORT
- Summary: Proposition 8 (HJR 125) Creates the broadband infrastructure fund to be used only for the expansion of access to and adoption of broadband and telecommunications services. Seven million people currently lack access in Texas, and if Proposition 8 passes, $1.5 billion would be allocated to the fund (federal matching funds are also available from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program). Access to the internet is crucial for economic opportunity, and expanding access to underserved communities will enhance public education in Texas.
Proposition 9: SUPPORT
- Proposition 9 (HJR 2) Authorizes the legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to eligible annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Would also authorize the legislature to appropriate money from the general revenue fund to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to pay the cost-of-living adjustment. Retired teachers in Texas have not received a COLA since 2004, and this amendment would deliver long-overdue relief to retired teachers who have struggled to make ends meet on fixed incomes amid historic inflation.
Texas AFT is not taking a position on the other 10 proposed amendments, but a short summary of each is included below:
- Proposition 1 (HJR 126) Protects a person’s right to engage in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture, or wildlife management practices on real property that the person owns or leases. Would not affect the authority of the legislature to authorize the regulation of these practices to protect the public health and safety from imminent danger, prevent a danger to animal health or crop production; or preserve or conserve the natural resources of the state under the Texas Constitution.
- Proposition 2 (SJR 64) Allows the governing body of a county or municipality to exempt from property taxation all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility, at no less than 50% of the appraised value of the property.
- Proposition 4 (HJR 2) Would send $7.1 billion to school districts so they can lower their property tax rates. The amendment would also raise the state’s school district homestead exemption — or the slice of a home’s value that can’t be taxed to pay for public schools — from $40,000 to $100,000, at a cost of $5.6 billion. The amendment also includes other tax reforms, including a temporary limit (20% for the next three years) on appraisals for commercial, mineral, and residential properties that don’t receive a homestead exemption that are worth less than $5 million. The amendment would also expand the population of businesses that don’t have to pay the state’s franchise tax, and allow voters to elect three members to their local appraisal district’s board of directors, which are currently appointed.
- Proposition 6 (SJR 75) Creates the Texas water fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board and endowed with a $1 billion down payment to assist in financing water projects in the state, including fixing Texas’ aging, deteriorating pipes, acquiring more water sources, and mitigating water loss.
- Proposition 7 (SJR 93) Establishes the Texas energy fund to be used for building electric generating facilities necessary to ensure the reliability or adequacy of an electric power grid in the state.
- Proposition 10 (SJR 87) Would exempt the value of equipment and inventory that are held by the manufacturers of medical or biomedical products – such as pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment stocks, and medical devices – from a facility’s overall property values, leading to a potential decrease in their taxes. The new exemption would cost districts some $207 million in estimated revenue over the next five years, according to a financial analysis.
- Proposition 11 (SJR 32) Adds conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to those districts in other counties currently allowed to issue bonds supported by property taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.
- Proposition 12 (HJR 134) Would abolish Galveston County’s office of the county treasurer if passed by a majority of Texans and Galveston County residents.
- Proposition 13 (HJR 107) Would increase the mandatory retirement age for state judges to 79 from the current mandatory retirement age of 75, and increase the minimum retirement age from 70 to 75.
- Proposition 14 (SJR 74) Would create the centennial parks conservation fund with more than $1 billion for state parks, which advocates said would create “a new golden age” for the park system. The funding would go to buying more land for the state parks system, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
These constitutional amendments and the other local measures on voters’ ballots will shape the future of our communities and our state, and Texas AFT encourages all school employees to make their voices heard in this crucial election.