(SAN ANTONIO, TX - November 8, 2011) Texas voters said a resounding 'NO' to expanding Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Transportation Reinvestment Zone (or TRZ) authority to counties by defeating Prop 4 November 8. The Constitutional Amendment HJR 63 authored by Rep. Joe Pickett (D - El Paso) would have allowed counties to use property taxes and sales taxes collected in a TRZ to build toll roads. So the defeat of Prop 4 is also a defeat of Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature's plan to slap tolls on virtually all new lanes to Texas roads.
"Using gas taxes to build toll roads is bad enough, but trying to nab property taxes to build toll roads is beyond the pale," says Terri Hall, TURF Founder. "It's refreshing to see the voters reject this anti-taxpayer and anti-property rights amendment. Let's see if lawmakers in Austin listen -- Texans don't want their tax money used to build roads and then have to pay again, through tolls, to drive on them."
The defeat of Prop 4 also signals a rejection of government abuse of property rights for Kelo-style economic development. Prop 4 would have given the government more power to decide whose private property it wishes to "redevelop." The ballot wording was vague and misleading. It failed to even mention tax increment financing, transportation reinvestment zone, or even the the word 'transportation.' TURF launched a statewide campaign to educate voters about the amendment. We Texans, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and Independent Texans also opposed Prop 4 as well.
Cities already have TIF and TRZ authority. TRZs are as much about "economic development" as it is financing transportation projects, and means those who live in a zone will have their property taxes go up due to higher property values from the government-encouraged development. Property taxes aren't going to go down once a county sells bonds dependent on ever increasing property tax appraisals.
The amendment was also linked to HB 563, authored by Pickett, which would have granted counties broad new authority, even to grant tax breaks to special interests in the zone and to use surpluses as a slush fund for virtually anything.
STATE OUTSOURCING TAX INCREASES
TRZs are a way for STATE legislators to punt on their responsibility to build and maintain STATE highways and their responsibility to end diversions of the gas tax to non-road uses. It allows them to outsource tax increases for roads by passing it down to the LOCAL level. By using appraisal increases to pay for transportation projects, it takes that revenue away from what cities and counties usually use that money to fund. So it would likely necessitate further property tax increases in order to make up for the shortfall in city and county services that will be diverted to transportation.
TURF is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer group defending citizens' concerns with Agenda 21, toll road policy, public private partnerships, and eminent domain abuse. TURF promotes pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom, & non-toll transportation solutions. For more information or to support the work of TURF, please visit www.TexasTURF.org.
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Texas voters reject proposal to give counties the same authority as cities in issuing bonds
The Associated Press
Published:08 November 2011
AUSTIN— Texas voters have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have given counties the same bonding powers as cities and towns, while passing a measure to allow cities and counties to enter contracts with one another without creating a new tax district.
Also, the governor will have new powers to grant pardons, elected officials will have more time to resign before running for another office and there is a new way to issue funds for student loans after Texas voters approved changes to the Texas Constitution.
Under Proposition 4, Texas counties would have been given the same authority that cities and towns have to issue bonds to finance the development of unproductive, underdeveloped or blighted areas, while pledging repayment with property tax revenues. Critics argued that 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 9 allows the Texas governor to grant a pardon, reprieve or commutation of punishment to a person who completes a sentence of deferred adjudication. But the court records could only be cleared on the written recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Under Proposition 10, local elected officeholders would get an extra 30 days before triggering automatic resignation if they become a candidate for another office.
The Higher Education Coordinating Board can now issue bonds for low-interest student loans now that voters have approved Proposition 3.