By: Jessica Shorten
AUSTIN – Early voting is already well underway, but Proposition 2 is getting some special attention by allowing counties to issue debt for infrastructure and road projects.
Marked as only to be used in “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted” areas in a County, Proposition 2 of the Texas Constitutional Amendments section of your ballot aims to change up how counties can fund infrastructure and road projects by allowing the financing of such projects without voter approval. Cities in Texas have been allowed to finance infrastructure projects, but the new proposition would extend that right to blighted areas of Texas counties.
New roads and infrastructure increase the value of property in an area while opening the door for new development by businesses, schools, and event centers like theme parks or stadiums. These new developments can further increase property values with the end goal of increasing overall tax revenue for the county.
As expected, this measure has strong support and opposition.
For organizations such as the Associated General Contractors of Texas (AGCT), Proposition 2 is a major plus. Founding and funding the Political Action Committee (PAC) Texas Infrastructure Now, the AGCT has published literature and launched a media campaign to promote the passage of Proposition 2.
The organization holds a charter from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and it is no secret why passage of Proposition 2 would be beneficial to AGCT supporters. Roads and infrastructure must be built, and those construction sites are going to need general contractors. If counties are approved to begin financing road and infrastructure projects; there will no doubt be a major increase in the number of projects which kick off across the state as counties are able to access funding for these projects.
While counties could have a new method of funding infrastructure and road projects, it comes at its own cost: debt. By financing roads and infrastructure projects, counties will also accumulate debt; and according to Proposition 2, no more than 65% of any new tax revenue generated can go towards repaying the debt, effectively capping the amount of debt allowed to fund each project.
The Republican Party of Texas passed a resolution on October 19, 2021 against the proposition, stating, “Taxing citizens in order to revitalize blighted, unproductive areas violates those free-market principles: looking to government rather than citizens to make economic choices leads to a distortion in the market, a waste of resources, and the unjust over-taxation of citizens.”
Early voting is ongoing through October 29th, with election day on November 2, 2021.