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Monday, December 4, 2023


City elections, propositions on the ballot

Gwyneth Gravador/The Cougar

This November, Houstonians will vote to decide who will be their next mayor. However, they will also have to decide on how to vote on different propositions. Some of the proposals includes, but not limited to university fundings, expanding both water, and internet access, a tax exemption on biomedical manufactured goods, and giving Houstonians better representation. 

Currently, 17 proposals are listed on the ballot — 14 of which are state-wide, two are city-wide and one is specific to Harris County. While the sheer number and breadth of the propositions on this year’s ballot can lead to confusion, the impact they have can be immense. The legislation voters will decide on this November will also have a direct impact on UH.

The article is listed based on the order of importance, as opposed to numerically. 

Texas Proposition 5

Proposition 5 focuses on restructuring the National Research University Fund to the Texas University Fund, a $3.9 billion endowment that provides funding to improve the research capabilities of four Texas universities, including UH. 

The NRUF allows the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to distribute money for those institutions that meet two required criteria. The first is whether or not an institution is considered to be an “emerging research university,” meaning that its campus is growing and that it is focused on graduate students. The second is if they have a minimum of $45 million to spend on restricted research. 

The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, both received funds under the Permanent University Fund, are currently the only Texas universities to be listed in the U.S. News & World Report’s Top 50 Public Schools. With the TUF, it would make four Texas universities compete for federal research grants, improve the national ranking and create more business opportunities. 

“I can tell you that the passage of Proposition 5, which by the way requires no new taxes or bonds, is critical for the University of Houston System and the City of Houston,” Chancellor Renu Khator said in this year’s State of the University address, who was in favor of it. 

City of Houston Proposition A

Proposition A amends Houston’s charter to simplify the process through which city councilors may add items to the weekly meeting agenda. As it stands now, three of the city’s 16 councilors must call for a special meeting at which a majority must agree to the proposed agenda item. 

As a result, Houston’s city council has rarely exercised this ability and many argue the current system grants the mayor de facto control over local legislation. If passed, Proposition A would eliminate the meeting requirement and allow three council members to simply sign a letter to add an item to an upcoming agenda. 

Houston has historically operated under a strong-mayor format, meaning the mayor’s office has greater influence over city operations than the council. While Proposition A would adjust this balance of power slightly, it would not completely tip it in favor of city council. 

“As a legislator, I did not need permission from the lt. governor or speaker to offer bills or amendments,” Whitmire wrote in a statement to Houston Landing. “I will extend that same privilege to the City Council. I want to work in partnership with council members and ensure they have more influence in city government. We work better when we work together.”

Texas Proposition 6

Proposition 6 establishes the New Water Supply for Texas Fund, a special fund focused on water conservation and improving infrastructure. 

Due to the rising population, the Texas Legislature decided to establish a plan 

If passed, the project will commence at the beginning of next year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. 

Texas Proposition 8

Proposition 8 is a bill that amend the state to create the Broadband Infrastructure Fund, allowing broader access to the Internet.

About 7 million people are lacking broadband access to the Internet statewide, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The BIF would increase digital access to education, increase economic growth, improve public safety and emergency services, healthcare, steady & reliable internet, and close a digital divide.

Texas Proposition 10

Proposition 10 is a tax exemption on biomedical manufacturing, and is a part of a push toward making Texas more competitive in medical manufacturing. It would also add 100,000 more jobs over the next decade, with an average salary from $75,000 to $100,000.

The proposal, if passed, also improves Texas’ supply chain, as well as its healthcare system. 

Harris County Proposition A 

Harris County Proposition A is a project in which Harris Health facilities will be rebuilt, due to rising population.

The proposed $2.5 billion bond replaces the existing LBJ hospital with a Level One Trauma Center. It would also allocate funding to build a new community clinic and have a higher capacity at Ben Taub Hospital. 

Houston Proposition B 

Also known as the Fair for Houston campaign, Proposition B is a bill that amends the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston’s regional government consisting of eight counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton, to consider population into its voting structure. 

The proposition has been endorsed by several mayoral candidates, which includes frontrunners U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, and state Sen. John Whitmore, it became one of the leading topics in the election.

The campaign will “ensure that everyone in the region has a fair voice and fair representation in important decisions,” ranging from flood control, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, childcare vouchers, and more, according to the Houston-Galveston Area PAC.

Texas Proposition 1

Proposition 1 establishes a constitutional right for people who farm, ranch or garden a land that they lease. This would allow state officials to allow some jurisdictions to protect public health if needed, but it may become difficult for them to create new farming laws in the future if the proposal passes. 

Texas Proposition 2

Proposition 2 is a property tax exemption for childcare facilities. This allows providers to improve wages, as well as to make tuition rates affordable for parents. 

Texas Proposition 3

Proposition 3 is a proposal on abolishing the ‘wealth tax,’ a term that is used to tax wealthy residents. Many Texas residents from both lower and middle-class would be affected by this if passed, meaning that they would have to pay more as opposed to affluent people. 

Texas Proposition 4

Proposition 4 provides homeowners within school districts a greater tax exemption from $40,000 to $100,000. It also includes a limit on how much tax each district can apply on elderly and disabled homeowners. 

Texas Proposition 7

Proposition 7 will create a fund to improve, manage and maintain utilities — particularly electric and natural gas. This, however, would not apply to wind and solar-based facilities, according to the Houston Landing.  

Texas Proposition 9

Proposition 9  makes adjustment on the cost-of-living pensions from the Teachers Retirement System of Texas. This would increase the amount of money retired teachers received as a part of their retirement benefits. 

Proposition 11

Proposition 11 issues bonds to conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County. This would allow them to fund parks, environmental conservation areas and recreational facilities. 

Proposition 12

Proposition 12 would allow for the abolishment of the Galveston County Treasurer. If passed, the county would employ a designated officer or other qualified individual. Hank Dugie, the county’s current treasurer, called for the position to be abolished during his 2022 campaign. 

Proposition 13

Proposition 13  increases the retirement age for state judges and justices. If passed, the minimum age to retire would rise from 70 to 75, and the max from 75 to 79. 

Proposition 14

Proposition 14 establishes a centennial park conservation fund. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department receives $1 billion from the state for creating new parks, and improving existing ones. 

Early voting starts on Oct. 23rd and the election will be held on Nov. 7. 

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