Texas ballot to include transportation bond question

October 25, 2021

Keith Goble

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Next week’s statewide ballot in Texas will include a question about whether to give counties authorization to use bonds for transportation work in certain areas. If approved, limitations would be included.

Texas statute already authorizes an incorporated city or town to issue bonds or notes to finance the development of “an unproductive, underdeveloped or blighted area.” Localities can increase property tax revenue in the area to repay the bonds.

State lawmakers acted earlier this year to include a question on the Nov. 2 ballot to add counties to the political entities authorized to issue bonds or notes for the same purpose. The legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot is Proposition 2.

Logical change touted

Advocates say adding counties to the authorization is a logical extension of the authority to issue bonds or notes.

They add that the method of financing does not increase taxes, but allow local governments to redirect any additional property tax revenue to certain reinvestment zones to finance improvements within the zone, including transportation projects.

New tool viewed as unnecessary

Critics say the transportation bond ballot question would expand taxpayer-backed debt by allowing counties to use tax increment financing, which could raise local property taxes.

“We must focus on cutting property taxes – not giving government new tools to raise them,” reads a statement from the Texas Freedom Caucus.

Opponents add that the extension to counties is unnecessary because cities and towns already can use bonds or notes to finance infrastructure projects in blighted areas.

Toll ban included

Proposition 2 would prohibit counties from allocating more than 65% of annual property tax revenue increases annually to repay the bonds. Counties also would be prohibited from using the funds from the bond issuance to build a toll road. LL

More election coverage

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of transportation ballot questions across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.