Texans overwhelmingly approve water proposal

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Texas voters approved dedicating $2 billion to the state water plan on Tuesday as they overwhelmingly approved nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution in the first statewide election where officials checked voters’ photo IDs.

Early voting was nearly double what it was two years ago, prompting Republican officials to declare that concerns about the voter ID requirement were overblown.

Only about 1 million out of 13.4 million Texas voters were expected to cast a ballot.

In addition to the water measure, voters approved an expansion of reverse mortgages and authorized the Legislature to provide property tax exemptions for surviving spouses of military personnel killed in the line of duty.

The water measure attracted the most attention and campaign funds, drawing support from business and environmental groups alike. The measure moves $2 billion from Texas’ rainy-day fund to its water infrastructure fund to help defray the borrowing costs on large water infrastructure projects, including creating reservoirs, laying new pipelines and replacing older ones.

In early returns, the proposition had been approved 77 percent to 22 percent in Tarrant County. In Parker County, the margin was 68 percent to 31 percent, and in Johnson County, 73 percent to 26 percent.

Some conservatives opposed using the state’s savings account to finance big construction projects. Others were concerned that the money could be misused.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus called the results “a resounding and overwhelming victory” for the bipartisan campaign that he championed. In early results, more than 75 percent approved the measure.

“I think you saw stakeholders who don’t always agree with one another come together in a very collaborative way,” Straus said at a campaign party in a downtown Austin bar. He called for the state comptroller to transfer the money as soon as possible.

Environmentalists also praised the result.

“We’re thrilled that Texas voters have chosen to invest in Texas’ water future,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a statewide advocacy group. “Texas is in a water crisis, caused by drought and made worse by wasteful water use.”

This report includes material from The Texas Tribune.

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