Abbott’s grade awaits Nov. 3 statewide vote

Gov. Greg Abbott’s report card for the Texas Legislature reflects mostly success, but in one subject the grade remains “incomplete.”

From the beginning, Abbott called for devoting more money to Texas’ cash-strapped highway system, which is $1 billion short of what is needed simply to maintain current roads.

In Dallas last week for a legislative update, Abbott first praised lawmakers for their hard work on two other proposals. He thanked them for sending more state troopers to the border and for investing more dollars for university research funding, including at UT Southwestern Medical School and UT Arlington.

But then he took particular note of the Nov. 3 constitutional amendment election. Voters will be asked to approve a proposition that would address another of Abbott’s “emergency” state goals by setting aside $4 billion or more specifically for free highways.

Lawmakers did their part by putting the proposal on the ballot, he said, and now voters can move the money into the highway fund “without raising a single penny in taxes, fees, tolls or debt.”

To be exact, Proposition 7 would amend the Texas Constitution to shift $2.5 billion in sales tax dollars plus a percentage of car sales and rental tax revenue to the highway fund.

Or, the way Abbott pitched it: “We tie the hands of the Legislature from being able to spend that money on other things.”

When he repeated the phrase, “tying the hands of the Legislature,” supporters in the crowd nodded approval.

Truthfully, the Legislature tied its own hands by submitting the proposition to voters. But either way, voters must approve it before lawmakers’ work is done.

The proposition is at the bottom of a ballot that also includes proposals on property-tax exemptions, residency, raffles and establishing a “right to hunt and fish,” among other topics. A full list is at VoteTexas.gov.

In Tarrant County, voters also will choose city and water board officials in Benbrook, fill a council vacancy in Grapevine and consider charter revisions, bond or tax proposals in eight other cities or school districts.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 4. The first day of voting is Oct. 19.

That is soon.