Constitutional Amendments: Proposition 6, State Water Plan

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This week Burnt Orange Report will be providing information and analysis on the nine proposed amendments on the ballot. These posts do not constitute an endorsement and are simply for informational purposes.

The sixth amendment on the ballot is SJR 1 by state Sen. Tommy Williams, Republican from The Woodlands.

Here is the official ballot language:

Proposition 6: 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 ballot language for this proposed amendment is upfront. SJR 1, which has been deemed the Rainy Day Fund Amendment, would establish two funds solely to help with financing water projects in the state water plan. The funding-totaling $2 billion-would be appropriated from the economic stabilization fund.

Read more about what it does below the jump.The Texas Water Development Board would manage the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas. The board is required to implement a state water plan to analyze and identify the water needs of the state.

The board's 2012 plan recommends hundreds of projects that would assure an adequate water supply in the future. However, the costs are quite high.

Here's a quote from the Texas Legislative Council's guide on the Texas Water Development Board's 2012 plan:

“8.3 million acre-feet of additional water supply will be needed by 2060. The plan recommends 562 water management strategies and projects that, if implemented, would provide 9 million acre-feet of additional water supply. The cost of implementing the recommended water management strategies and projects is $53 billion. Municipal water providers are expected to need nearly $27 billion in state financial assistance to implement the strategies recommended in the plan.”

According to the legislative meetings, Supporters of this proposed amendment say the purpose of it is to create a durable plan to finance these projects. Supporters also say pulling funds from the economic stabilization fund is a correct use of the fund because it was created as a savings account to address emergencies.

Opponents of the proposed amendment believe that funds should be drawn from the general revenue fund. Opponents also say that through the proposed water funds, “the state would act like an investment bank.”

One interesting observation from the legislative meetings is that Texas's credit rating was an argument on both sides. Supporters of SJR 1 say the credit rating will not be affected while opponents say the state's credit rating may be affected.

Check back tomorrow for information on propositions seven, eight and nine.  

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Background on Constitutional Amendments: The Legislature proposes constitutional amendments in joint resolutions in the Senate and House. Each amendment must be passed by both bodies by a two-thirds vote, and the governor does not have the ability to veto proposed amendments. If approved by the majority of voters, the amendments take effect immediately unless specified in the resolution.

Source: Texas Legislative Council.

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