Property tax, teacher pay measures pass on Nov. 7

Young County voters turned out in greater numbers than the state average on Nov. 7 to pass 13 of 14 constitutional amendments and a $33 million bond issue to build a new hospital in Olney, unofficial election results showed.

Elections administrator Kaitlyn Mosley said 19.5 percent of Young County’s registered voters turned out last Tuesday. The estimated statewide turnout was 14.5 percent, the Texas Secretary of State said.

Young County voters rejected only one of the proposed constitutional amendments - Proposition 13 - a measure that would have increased the mandatory retirement age for state justices and judges to 79 from 75. Local voters voted it down, 56.65 percent to 43.35 percent, unofficial election results showed.

Proposition 1, to protect landowners’ rights to “engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management,” received the broadest support locally. The measure, approved by 92.45 percent of Young County voters, intends to protect farmers and ranchers from encroachment and regulation from cities growing up around them.

Proposition 3, which prohibits the state from taxing the wealth and assets of an individual or family, received 83.47 percent approval in Young County.

The two most highly publicized measures – Proposition 4 and Proposition 9 -- passed with 80-plus percent approval from Young County voters. Prop. 4, which increased the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000 and capped appraisal values at 20 percent, passed with 88.67 percent “yes” votes, the results showed.

Proposition 9, which authorizes $3.45 billion in bonus checks and costof- living raises for retired public school teachers across the state, passed by 81.66 percent, the results showed. It is the first increase for retired teachers since 2004.

Voters also felt strongly about spending state funds to improve water, broadband, and energy infrastructure and state parks. Proposition 6, creating a fund for water- related infrastructure projects, passed with 80 percent approval. Proposition 7, an energy fund that supports the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of natural gas projects but excludes wind and solar projects, passed with 72.87 percent approval.

Proposition 8, creating a $1.5 billion broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access to rural areas and assisting in the financing of connectivity projects, passed with 68.77 percent of the vote. The park fund, Proposition 14, was approved by 71.98 percent of voters.

Nearly two-thirds of voters championed an amendment to exempt child-care facilities from ad valorem taxes. Voters seemed less enthusiastic about amendments to create a $3.9 billion endowment called the Texas University Fund to fund faculty, research, and graduate studies at Texas Tech University, Texas State University, University of North Texas, and the University of Houston. That measure, Proposition 5, passed with 56.15 percent approval.

Proposition 10, giving tax breaks to the biomedical industry, got 57.72 percent approval from voters.

Proposition 11, supporting El Paso County’s ability to issue bonds to fund parks and recreation facilities, and Proposition 12, abolishing the Galveston County Treasurer’s Office, received 55. 23 percent and 55.41 percent approval, respectively.

Voters in the Olney Hamilton Hospital District approved the sale of $33 million in general obligation bonds to fund a new hospital in Olney by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent, the results showed.