Texas voters beware! Proposition 2, one of eight proposed constitutional amendments on this November’s ballot, contains misleading ballot wording to hide the fact that it uses local property tax increases to pay for transportation projects that should be funded by the state using your existing taxes.

Proposition 2 is the result of House Joint Resolution 99, authored by State Rep. Terry Canales (D–Edinburg) to give counties the ability to issue new road debt using an unpopular financing method backed by property tax increases called Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZs).

Lawmakers already tried to pass this in 2011 (then known as Proposition 4), but voters rejected it.

Now, they think they can get it past voters this November by removing the phrase “ad valorem tax increases” and including the word “transportation,” since ballot initiatives for transportation tend to pass with more than 80 percent of the vote.

In fact, Proposition 2 would authorize counties to divert up to 65 percent of your property tax increases to projects the state should be funding with your existing road taxes.

Even more concerning is the broad language used for the land to do it.

It changes the Constitution to give counties authority to issue bonds to finance projects in “undeveloped, underdeveloped, or blighted areas.” That could mean virtually anything. One man’s blight is another man’s treasure. The word “transportation” wasn’t even included the original bill.

In 2011, the ballot said:

The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.

However, Proposition 2 now says this:

The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.

In August, three citizen advocacy groups—Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), Grassroots America – We the People PAC, and True Texas Project—sent a letter to the secretary of state requesting a change in the misleading ballot language or the groups would file a lawsuit to contest the election. The ballot language was not changed.

Be forewarned, this bill involves increases to your property taxes to pay off long-term debt for decades for transportation projects—or anything they can call “infrastructure.” It also virtually guarantees your property taxes won’t go down.

Since voters would not get the chance to vote for or against any future TRZ established by a county should Proposition 2 pass in November, voting against Proposition 2 is voters’ only chance to say “no” to more property tax increases, blank checks for property rights abuses, and deceptive ballot language.

This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.

Terri Hall

Terri Hall is the founder and director of TexasTURF.org and TollfreeHighways.com. Both groups advocate for property rights and pro-taxpayer transportation solutions.