On October 5, 2023, The Liberty Cafe Podcast aired an episode titled “Texans Can Save Billions by Voting No on November 7”. The episode delved deep into the intricacies of the Texas Constitutional amendments up for a vote on November 7, 2023 and their potential ramifications for taxpayers. ACNO has no affiliation with The Liberty Cafe Podcast nor with Texas Scorecard. We are simply presenting this as additional information and another viewpoint to help inform the voting base.
The Texas legislature, in recent times, has been under scrutiny for its financial decisions. The state reportedly had a surplus of $32 billion entering the last session. However, the legislature had an additional $80 billion to spend in 2023 compared to 2021. This financial backdrop set the stage for the proposed constitutional amendments.
- Opportunity for Texans: The podcast emphasized that Texans have a unique opportunity to reduce state spending by up to $13.8 billion by voting on the upcoming constitutional amendments. If these amendments are not approved, the state could save this substantial amount.
- Proposition Two: The proposition is primarily sponsored by Democrats. The rationale behind this move seems to be to support childcare facilities that cater to lower-income students and are already linked to state programs, specifically the Texas Workforce Commission. These facilities already benefit from government subsidies, indicating their essential role in providing childcare services to a segment of the population that might not afford it otherwise. Here are the implications:
- Financial Impact on Local Governments: While there’s no direct state cost associated with this proposition, it could have financial implications at the local level. By allowing cities and counties to cut property taxes for these facilities, local governments might see a reduction in their revenue. This could potentially lead to an increase in property taxes for residents to compensate for the lost revenue.
- Increased Government Influence: The proposition might be seen as a move to increase government influence and involvement in childcare in Texas. By providing these facilities with tax breaks, the government is indirectly promoting a specific type of childcare facility – those that are subsidized and cater to lower-income students.
- Support for Lower-Income Families: On the positive side, this proposition could make childcare more accessible and affordable for lower-income families. By reducing the financial burden on these facilities, there’s potential for cost savings to be passed on to families.
- Concerns Raised: The podcast raises concerns about the proposition. It suggests that while the intention might be to support lower-income families, the actual outcome might be an increase in government control over childcare in Texas. The emphasis is on the fact that these are not typical childcare centers run by families or small groups but are instead linked to state programs and are already under government influence.
- Proposition Five: Proposition Five aims to either create or rename an existing fund to the “Texas University Fund”. The exact name of the previous fund wasn’t specified in the podcast, but the emphasis is on the new designation and its implications. The Texas University Fund is designed to provide a “dedicated, independent, and equitable” source of funding. The terminology suggests that once the fund is established, it will operate autonomously, with minimal external influence or redirection of its resources. The initial cost to the state for establishing this fund would be $208 million over the next biennium. Following this initial period, there would be an annual cost of approximately $120 million. Notably, this money would be sourced from the state’s rainy day fund, which is traditionally reserved for emergency situations. The podcast points out that the rainy day fund, instead of being used for its intended purpose, is being eyed for regular, ongoing expenses like this one. The host of The Liberty Cafe Podcast, expressed reservations about the proposition. He emphasized the terms “dedicated” and “independent”, suggesting that once taxpayers approve this fund, they might lose any say over its use in the future. The fund would operate independently, potentially without accountability or transparency. Furthermore, the decision to source funds from the rainy day fund raises eyebrows. Traditionally, the rainy day fund is meant for unforeseen emergencies, not for regular, ongoing expenses. The use of this fund for the Texas University Fund suggests a potential misallocation of resources. So, Proposition Five presents a significant decision for Texas voters. While the establishment of a fund for universities might seem beneficial on the surface, the underlying financial implications and concerns about transparency and accountability make it a complex issue. Voters need to weigh the potential benefits of supporting emerging research universities against the concerns about fiscal responsibility and the appropriate use of the state’s rainy day fund.
- Proposition Six: Proposition Six proposes the establishment of the “Texas Water Fund”. This fund is designed to assist in financing water projects within the state. Given the dry conditions experienced in parts of Texas, especially regions like central Texas and the Texas Hill Country, there’s a recognized need for water conservation and management projects. The proposition seeks to address water scarcity and ensure a consistent supply for the state’s growing population and industries. Here is/are the purpose and implications:
- Addressing Water Scarcity: The primary aim of the Texas Water Fund is to finance projects that can help mitigate the effects of prolonged dry conditions and ensure a steady water supply. This could include reservoir construction, water recycling projects, and infrastructure for water transportation.
- Financial Aspects: The exact financial details and the total allocation for the fund were not explicitly mentioned in the podcast segment. However, the establishment of such a fund would likely involve significant state investment.
- Concerns about Socialism: The podcast host raised concerns about the state’s increasing control over water resources. He referred to this as a form of socialism, where the state owns or controls the means of production. In this context, water is a crucial resource for various production processes, and the proposition might be seen as increasing government control over this essential resource.
- Potential for Mismanagement: The host also hinted at the possibility of mismanagement of funds and resources. Given the significant financial implications and the vital nature of water projects, there’s a need for transparency, accountability, and efficient management of the Texas Water Fund.
- Proposition Seven: Proposition Seven pertains to the establishment of the Texas Energy Fund and the Texas Energy Loan Program. It aims to create the “Texas Energy Fund” and introduces the “Texas Energy Loan Program”. The fund is designed to support energy initiatives within the state, with a dual focus on providing loans and potentially incentivizing new construction. The purpose and concerns:
- Texas Energy Fund: This fund is established to either loan money or directly incentivize new construction in the energy sector. The exact mechanisms and criteria for these incentives or loans were not explicitly detailed in the podcast segment.
- Texas Energy Loan Program: Despite its name suggesting a focus on loans, there’s an indication that a significant portion of the fund might be given away rather than loaned. This is inferred from industry insights suggesting that while low-interest money has been available for some time, the need for such a program might be more about direct incentives than loans.
- Potential Misuse of Funds: The podcast host expressed significant reservations about Proposition Seven, labeling it as the “worst of the bunch”. His concerns revolve around the potential misuse of funds and the lack of transparency in its allocation.
- Increased State Control: The host also hinted at the possibility of this proposition leading to increased state control over the energy sector. He equated the state’s growing influence over essential resources, like water (as discussed in Proposition Six) and now energy, to a form of socialism, where the state has significant control over the means of production.
- Questionable Need for the Loan Program: An industry insider’s perspective, as shared in the podcast, raises questions about the actual need for the Texas Energy Loan Program. Given that low-interest rates have been available for years, the establishment of a new loan program might be redundant. This suggests that the real intent might be more about direct financial incentives than actual loans.
- Proposition Nine: Proposition Nine, focuses on the financial well-being of retired teachers in Texas. It proposes a one-time allocation of funds to provide a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for retired teachers in Texas. The proposition would cost the state $5 billion. This is a significant allocation, especially when considering it as a one-time expenditure. The primary aim of Proposition Nine is to address the financial challenges faced by retired teachers. Over the years, inflation and rising living costs can erode the purchasing power of retirement benefits. This proposition seeks to provide a COLA to help retired teachers maintain their standard of living. The primary concerns with this proposition were:
- Sustainability: The podcast host expressed concerns about the sustainability of such a move. While a one-time adjustment might provide temporary relief, it doesn’t address the long-term challenges faced by retired teachers. There’s a need for a more sustainable solution that ensures the financial well-being of retired educators over the years.
- Public Education Spending: He also touched upon the broader issue of public education spending in Texas. He described public education as a “sinkhole for money”, suggesting that there’s a need for a more comprehensive review of how funds are allocated and spent in this sector.
The proposed amendments have significant financial implications for the state. For instance, approving all eight amendments could increase state spending by $13.8 billion. Conversely, voting against them could lead to substantial savings. The podcast suggests that this is an unprecedented opportunity for Texans to influence state spending directly.
The episode from The Liberty Cafe Podcast gave a comprehensive discussion to the upcoming constitutional amendments in Texas. It underscores the need for Texans to be informed and make decisions that align with fiscal responsibility and transparency. The upcoming vote on November 7 presents Texans with a pivotal moment to shape the state’s financial future.
You can listen to the podcast by following the link below.