Texas voters get to decide: Generational investments

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter that highlights Texas 2036-endorsed constitutional amendments from the 88th Legislature that voters will get to decide on in November. To receive this weekly look at our work, sign up here.

Texas Voters Decide: Constitutional Amendments & Generational Investments 🏛

Setting the stage: During the legislative session, Texas 2036 supported legislation establishing new, constitutionally-dedicated funds for water infrastructure, state parks and broadband.

  • These pieces of legislation made their way through the 88th Legislature and will be up for a vote on Nov. 7, 2023. Early voting kicks off Oct. 23.
  • Voters will decide on a total of 14 proposed amendments—also known as propositions in an election—to the Texas Constitution.

By the numbers: The Texas Constitution is one of the longest in the nation and still growing.

  • It has been amended 517 times since its adoption in 1876.
  • As of 2022, the Texas Legislature has proposed 700 amendments.
  • 180 have been defeated by Texas voters.

What’s next? Drawing for the ballot order of proposed amendments takes place on Friday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. in the Texas Capitol.

Keep reading: We break down three of these major generational investments in the state’s infrastructure below.

Preparing for Water Needs 💦 

Years of neglect, underinvestment and an aging infrastructure have adversely affected the reliability, sustainability and resiliency for many of Texas’ 10,000 plus water and wastewater systems.

📊 Projected water demand is expected to increase 9% by 2070 while the state’s projected water supply is expected to decrease 18%.

To address these challenges, the Texas Water Fund will help repair deteriorating water systems and create new water supplies to provide long-term solutions.

🎯 A $1 billion investment for a new dedicated water fund can become law. This is thanks to legislation by Sen. Perry, R-Lubbock, and Rep. T. King, D-Batesville.

Want to learn more? See what Senior Policy Advisor Jeremy Mazur has to say about what’s next for Texas’ water infrastructure. 

Creating & Maintaining State Parks 🌳

Texans will have the opportunity now to ensure they have access to public parklands for generations to come with the constitutional amendment.

📊 $1 in public money spent on state parks can generate between $4 and $12 in economic returnThis is particularly relevant for rural counties with parks as they experience greater growth in employment, GDP and population than rural counties without parks. 

To safeguard, improve and create new state parks as the state’s population continues to grow, the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund holds the potential to preserve and expand our natural landscapes for future generations.

🎯 A $1 billion investment for a dedicated parkland fund can be administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife if passed by voters. This follows legislative efforts by Sen. Parker, R-Flower Mound, and Rep. Walle, D-Houston.

Interested in state parks? Policy Advisor Rahul Sreenivasan offers insights into state parks and other budget items.

Bridging the Digital Divide 💻

The legislative session’s most important policy addressing broadband internet expansion would broaden the opportunity for all Texans to participate in the 21st century economy.

📊 Nearly 3 million Texas households and over 7 million Texans still lack access to broadband internet today.

To help close the existing digital divide in Texas, the Broadband Infrastructure Fund will also allow the state to pull down billions of additional federal dollars.

🎯 A $1.5 billion investment to support the expansion of broadband internet service to underserved and unserved areas of the state through a dedicated fund can become law. This is due to efforts by Rep. Ashby, R-Lufkin, and Sen. Huffman, R-Houston.

Got questions about broadband? Policy Analyst Mitrah Avini has answers about broadband and the digital divide.

Bonus Read: Supporting Higher Education 🎓
In addition to the constitutional amendments aimed at making needed investments in vital infrastructure, the Texas University Fund is on the ballot and, if passed, would provide funding to certain institutions of higher education.
  • It would establish a permanent higher education research endowment for emerging research universities looking to expand their research activity and graduate more doctoral students.
Brought forward by Rep. Bonnen, R-Friendswood, and Sen. Huffman, R-Houston, the fund would help schools achieve national prominence as top-tier research universities and drive the state economy.
  • The first four universities eligible would be: Texas State University, Texas Tech University, University of Houston and University of North Texas. Other institutions would become eligible once they spend above a certain amount in federal and private research expenditures.

Do you share our vision for a future of Texas that prioritizes long-term investments in water, state parks and broadband?

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