Voters approve Proposition 4, but TSTA scores some victories

Trying to kill Proposition 4 on the constitutional amendments ballot was always an uphill battle because of longstanding opposition in Texas to a state income tax, and in the end the proposal was adopted, 76 percent to 24 percent, in Tuesday’s election.

Despite what many voters probably thought, it won’t ban a state income tax, but it will make it more difficult for a future Legislature to propose one. It now will require two-thirds votes of the House and the Senate for a future Legislature to put an income tax on the ballot, a higher hurdle than the majority vote that was required previously.

But the real potential damage of Proposition 4 for future generations of educators and school children is that it repealed a 1993 constitutional provision that would have dedicated revenue from a future income tax to reducing school property taxes and increasing education funding. Proposition 4 repealed a future source of dedicated education funding, a point that TSTA tried to make in arguments against the proposal.

Our allies against Proposition 4 included the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the PTA, the Texas AFL-CIO, Texas AFT and Pastors for Texas Children, among others, who also argued that it was short-sighted to put an unnecessary restriction on future Legislatures, since we have no idea now how severe Texas’ revenue needs may be 20 or 30 years from now.

All in all, it was a short-sighted vote promoted by state leaders who are under-funding state government now and were happy to play politics with Texas’ future. The result underscores our resolve to continue to Vote Education First and elect more legislators and other state leaders who truly value and support public education, educators and students.

Proposition 7 carries

On a positive note, Proposition 7, which was endorsed by TSTA, was approved, 73 percent to 27 percent. It will allow the General Land Office to double from $300 million to $600 million the amount of revenue it can donate each year from state-owned land or properties to the Available School Fund for distribution among school districts. This will be an important new boost to public education funding.

Special legislative races

In a special election to fill a vacancy in House District 28 in Fort Bend County, Democrat Eliz Markowitz, who was endorsed by TSTA, won 39 percent of the vote to lead into a runoff with Republican Gary Gates, who won 28 percent of ballots. The winner will succeed Republican John Zerwas, who resigned after holding the seat for more than 10 years.

In another special election to fill a legislative vacancy, Democrat Anna Eastman, a former Houston school board member, will be in a runoff with Republican Luis La Rotta for the House District 148 seat in Houston to succeed former state Rep. Jessica Farrar, who resigned. Eastman won 20 percent of the vote to La Rotta’s 16 percent among 15 candidates.

And, in House District 100 in Dallas, to fill the legislative seat formerly held by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Democrat Lorraine Birabil, who won 33 percent of the vote, apparently will be in a runoff with fellow Democrat James Armstrong, who won 21 percent. But Armstrong led a third candidate, Democrat Daniel Davis Clayton, by only five votes, and there may be a recount.

School board elections

In Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Thomas L. Jackson and Julie Hinaman, who were endorsed by Cy-Fair TSTA/NEA won their board races.

William “Randy” Bates, endorsed by Aldine TSTA/NEA won a seat on the Aldine ISD school board.

And a $425 million bond proposal for school safety improvements and other upgrades supported by the Ysleta Teachers Association was approved by 58 percent of Ysleta ISD voters.