Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Prop 6: alleviating the drought

On Nov. 5, Texas residents will get to vote on nine constitutional amendments, one of which is stirring up controversy.

Proposition 6, also known as SJR1, is a constitutional amendment providing for the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in financing priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.

If passed, it will allow for $2 billion to be taken out of the Rainy Day Fund, the state’s emergency fund, to support water infrastructure projects.

Prop 6 was sponsored by State House Representative Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, and State Senators Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. It was approved by the Texas House and Senate.

Most news organizations and politicians have been favorable concerning the proposition and have marketed it as drought relief for Texan communities.

In an interview with KSAT 12 News, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff was quoted, saying “(Prop 6) is about the state… it is about how it can help us develop additional water supplies.”

On Oct. 23, Tommy Adkisson, the Bexar County commissioner for Precinct 4, spoke at UTSA in favor of the amendment. He said it was important that all students vote in support of it because it has economic implications for all Texans and will bring relief to Texans in drought-prone areas.

Republican and Democrat gubernatorial candidates are both supportive of the proposition. According to KENS5 News, “A member of the Wendy Davis campaign said she plans to vote for Prop 6 in Fort Worth.” A spokesperson for Attorney General Abbott said he supports the one-time withdrawal for the water fund.

Non-government supporters of Proposition 6 include the Associated General Contractors of Texas and the Dow Chemical Company, who donated $625,000 to The Water Texas PAC, a political action committee headed by House Speaker Joe Straus to promote passage of the ballot proposition.

Other big donors to the Water Texas PAC to ensure Prop 6 is passed are Koch Industries, which gave $20,000, and Energy Future Holdings, which gave $100,000.

Although politicians and corporations view this proposition favorably, there has been widespread opposition to Proposition 6 from rural residents and grassroots political organizations.

Grassroots opponents of the proposition include Save Our Spring (S.O.S.) Alliance, Travis County Green Party, Texans for Accountable Government, Neighbors for Neighbors, Hays County Constitutional Republicans and the Texas Drought Project. In a public protest outside the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) headquarters on Oct. 14, they voiced their oppositions to the proposition.

“Prop 6 puts far too much power into the hands of just three people. This is a sure formula for cronyism and corruption. Texans need to know that,” said Lenee Lovejoy of the Hays County Constitutional Republicans at the public protest.

“Voters need to know that a yes on Prop 6 is a vote to turn control of this $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund over to just three people. The same people telling us to vote yes on Prop 6 are the ones who stand to make a lot of money if this passes. We are told that we will suffer from the drought if we don’t vote for Prop 6 and that critical water projects will only be implemented by passing Prop 6 — this is a lie. Critical water projects will get done with or without Prop 6. The only difference is we will have more choice without Prop 6 and projects will be more likely to get done fairly and efficiently without Prop 6.”

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Julie Turner, president of the Texas Patriots PAC, is also an opponent of the proposition. She believes “if water is a core function of government, the funding should come from General Revenues. If Texans support this proposition, (Texans) will be establishing a precedent for the legislature to raid the Rainy Day Fund to fund expenditures that should be funded out of General Revenue. This is a bad precedent.”

A similar measure passed in November 2011, allocating $6 billion to water projects to help curb the drought in the state. Out of that money, none has gone towards any water projects so far, according to the state comptroller.

“There is already $6 billion in bond money which is there for such projects, but is not being put to use for one reason or another. My complete guess would be that developers are holding out to see if they can instead get access to the lower interest, easier money which would be made available by Prop 6,” says Jake Tucker, a member of Students United for Socio-Economic Justice at UTSA.

“In my opinion, the absolute scariest part of this is that it gives the new Perry appointees for the Texas Water Development Board unprecedented power to choose which projects get prioritization. Just like issues pertaining to education, transportation, labor, environment, health, redistricting, etc, this power will, almost without exception, tend to balance in the favor of corporations, the economic elite, the polluters and developers and away from those who truly seek sustainable and progressive forms of living.”

Early voting ends November 1. Election Day is November 5.

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