This Election Day is about issues

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Today is Election Day for campaigns that mostly involve issues, not personalities, which means they haven’t included screeching TV commercials or partisan mailers.

But it still involves important decisions for the future growth of Texas, our cities and our school districts.

Decisions made today will determine how easily Texas cities can tap the water for future success, and whether the Fort Worth and Azle school districts can add classrooms and equipment for the students who are already here.

At the top of the ballot, Texas lawmakers propose nine new amendments to the much-amended 1876 Texas Constitution.

Voters in eight Tarrant County cities — Arlington, Bedford, Burleson, Crowley, Flower Mound, Keller, Richland Hills and Sansom Park — will also decide various propositions involving liquor laws, bond sales, sales taxes or charter changes.

In Benbrook, Grand Prairie, Haltom City, White Settlement and the Lake Worth school district, voters will fill seats on councils or boards.

In short, there are no partisan elections today, but there’s plenty to vote on.

The most intense campaign, pro and con, has been over Proposition 6, a constitutional amendment to use $2 billion from state “rainy-day” savings in a revolving loan account for new water supply projects in the 50-year state water plan.

The proposal emerged from a painstaking compromise in the Legislature and has strong support from groups that are often at odds, from Gov. Rick Perry and business leaders to environmental groups such as the Sierra Club.

Opponents fear a lack of safeguards for financial oversight. Some opponents represent rural East Texas residents or landowners who fear losing land and natural resources to cities for lakes and pipelines.

In Fort Worth, school trustees are asking voters to weigh issuing $387 million in bonds to add nearly 300 classrooms and provide pre-K classes, with smaller propositions to build special schools for arts and science and to replace equipment, making the total package $490 million.

The Fort Worth election is one of several statewide where leaders laid out a proposal to meet needs, and an Austin-based political action committee is campaigning against taking on more debt.

The PAC is named Accountability First, but leaders of the local “Say No” campaign have not been transparent or accountable in spending reports.

In Arlington, voters will decide whether to end a 111-year ban on retail liquor sales. Opponents criticize the proposal as broader than the original proposal to simplify wines sales in Rangers Ballpark.

One more reason to vote:

Make sure your ID meets Texas’ new requirements before the March primaries.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has studied many of the issues facing local voters and recommends votes for:

•  Fort Worth school district bonds. Proposition 1 would build classroom space and add district-wide prekindergarten. Proposition 2 would add two specialty schools for grades six through 12. Proposition 3 is for nonconstruction items such as buses and band uniforms and equipment.

•  All nine constitutional amendments, ranging from crucial water funding in Proposition 6 to reverse mortgages for home purchases in Proposition 5 and the Proposition 1 property tax benefits for spouses of military members killed in action. Some other propositions are more debatable; for more information, see the House Research Organization website.

•  The Arlington proposal to allow liquor sales, including retail outlets. The measure, if approved, is likely to boost tax revenue and overall retail sales.

•  Azle school district bonds, providing $20 million for a career and technology center, a new gym and a new fire sprinkler system for the expanded high school.

The Editorial Board respects the opinions of voters and urges all Texans to cast ballots.

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