Texas voters approved constitutional amendments Tuesday that will allow new cooperation between cities and counties, give the governor more power to issue pardons and enable the state to borrow more money for student loans.
With less than 4 percent of voters turning out to cast ballots, most of the 10 proposals were approved, according to unofficial results from the Texas secretary of state's office.
But Texans rejected three measures: one that would have allowed counties to issue development bonds in the same way that cities do, one that would give conservation tax breaks to some landowners and one that would have granted new bonding power to El Paso County.
Proposition 1 allows the surviving spouses of all disabled veterans to continue claiming an exemption from state property tax after the veteran dies. Until now, a widow or widower had to resume paying the property tax after the disabled spouse died.
With the passage of Proposition 2, the state will issue more bonds for water projects. The amendment enables the state to create a revolving $6 billion bond package to finance water conservation projects and sewage and flood control work.
With the passage of Proposition 3, the Higher Education Coordinating Board will be able to finance low-interest student loans with government bonds. Supporters said the plan was necessary because budget cuts to state and federal aid programs will increase demand for fixed-rate loans.
Under Proposition 4, counties would have been given the same authority that cities and towns have to issue bonds to finance the development of underdeveloped or blighted areas. Critics said the amendment would expand transportation reinvestment zones to counties, which could clear the way for new toll roads.
Proposition 5 authorizes the Legislature to allow cities and counties to enter into contracts with other cities and counties without triggering a property tax. Proposition 6 recalculates the distribution formula for the Permanent School Fund and could result in more money going to school districts.
The rejected Proposition 7 would have allowed El Paso County to use property taxes from new conservation districts to develop and maintain parks and recreation facilities. Critics said the measure would have allowed elected officials to avoid getting voter approval for new projects.
Voters also rejected Proposition 8, which would have given tax breaks to landowners who take measures to conserve water and preserve water quality. The proposal was hailed as one of the few measures approved by the Legislature last session that received bipartisan support.
The governor will be able to grant a pardon, reprieve or commutation of punishment to a person who completes a sentence of deferred adjudication under Proposition 9. The records previously could be cleared only on the written recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Proposition 10 allows local elected officeholders an extra 30 days before triggering automatic resignation if they become a candidate for another office. The change was made to accommodate a change in the state's filing deadlines.
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