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Texas voters overwhelmingly approve constitutional amendment banning income tax

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Nine of 10 ballot initiatives on the Texas ballot passed Tuesday night, including a constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax.

The only initiative certain to fail was Proposition 1, in which 65 percent of voters opposed a single elected official from holding more than one municipal judge position at the same time, according to unofficial results.

Proposition 4, “prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income,” passed overwhelmingly, with nearly a three-fourths majority.

More than 1.3 million voters supported the income tax ban, with a little more than 440,000 voters opposing it.

Gov. Greg Abbott thanked supporters in a news release.

“Today’s passage of Prop. 4 is a victory for taxpayers across the Lone Star State,” Abbott said. “I am grateful to Representative Jeff Leach for his bold leadership on this issue, and for the overwhelming majority of Texans who voted to ensure that our great state will always be free of a state income tax. This ban on such a disastrous tax will keep our economy prosperous, protect taxpayers, and ensure that Texas remains the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”

On other measures, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFFR) had encouraged voters to oppose measures 2, 6 and 8, arguing they create unnecessary debt, expand the size of government, and overly burden taxpayers. They all passed.

Nearly 65 percent of voters approved Proposition 2 with 71 percent of precincts reporting. The proposition allows the issuance of “additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.” The measure adds yet another constitutionally dedicated fund, which increases the size of government and the board’s debt burden, TFFR says.

The Legislative Budget Board estimates that the issuance of new state debt will “have a negative impact of about $3.5 million to general revenue related funds through fiscal 2020-21.”

“State-subsidized debt serves as a disincentive to properly prioritizing spending and distorts market forces,” TFFR said in opposing the measure.

Proposition 3 passed with 86 percent of voter approval, according to the early results, allowing the legislature “to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”

Proposition 5 also was approved by a large majority of voters. It dedicates “the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas parks and wildlife department and the Texas historical commission to protect Texas natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”

Proposition 6 also passed. It authorizes the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

According to the Legislative Budget Board, “CPRIT has $150 million in un-appropriated bond authority and $286 million in unexpended previously appropriated authority that has gone unencumbered available for the 2020-21 biennium.”