Vote Yes On Proposition 6

Posted by Jon Weist, on Wed October 16 2013 at 10:33 AM

Nothing will get in the way of Texas’ growth quicker than an unreliable water supply. US government debt and spending notwithstanding, a state that can’t meet the water demands of residents and businesses is a state that won’t grow.

Despite recent rains, Texas remains in a drought, and in some places it’s a crisis. On November 5, Texans should take a major step toward removing some of the uncertainty about future water supply by voting yes on Proposition 6. A one-page summary of the Prop 6 is at http://arlingtontx.com/images/uploads/Prop_6.pdf

The Constitutional Amendment would make a one-time, $2 billion allocation from the state’s rainy day fund to provide loans for local water development projects. The projects are determined in the state’s 50-year water plan, which is assembled from local plans in 16 districts.

And that’s the key; it’s a local plan, not something presided over by remote bureaucrats who can funnel the money to their buddies or spend it on unproductive projects. The plan can be read in its entirety on the Water Development Board’s web site. You can click here to get it to: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/state_water_plan/2012/2012_swp.pdf

This $2 billion is nowhere near the total cost of the plan, but it provides a mechanism to build pipelines, water supply and to promote conservation for local entities. These include helping build transmission capacity for the Tarrant Regional Water District, the raw-water supplier that provides Arlington with two-thirds of its water supply.

No doubt $2 billion is a lot of money, but the balance of the rainy day fund – officially called the Economic Stabilization Fund – is not in danger. It’s funded by a complicated formula based on oil and gas production, which is booming. Even with this $2 billion outlay, the fund is near an all-time high.

Legislators had the option during their many months in Austin earlier this year to vote for this allocation without amending the constitution, which is what they should have done. The same two-thirds majority to spend money from the rainy day fund is required to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. This move sets a bad precedent by punting to the voters on rainy day fund spending. Making those decisions, after all, is what we elected these folks to do.

But they didn’t, so here we are. Early voting begins October 21 and runs through November 1.  Early voting locations are posted at www.voteforarlington.com. Vote Yes on Proposition 6.

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