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Oct. 22, 2007
Proposition 4 Would Fund State Parks, Historic Sites, Crime Labs and More
AUSTIN, Texas — Almost every Texan would feel the effects of Proposition 4 on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot, but few people may understand the proposition’s ballot language.
Proposition 4 would authorize up to $1 billion in bonds to pay for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects for nine state agencies. It stems from Senate Joint Resolution 65 passed by the 80th Texas Legislature.
Affected agencies include the Parks and Wildlife Department, Historical Commission, Department of Public Safety, Department of State Health Services, Department of Aging and Disability Services, Youth Commission, Department of Criminal Justice, Facilities Commission, and Adjutant General’s Department.
When voters step into ballot booths, they’ll see 16 constitutional amendments, including several other bond items. The Proposition 4 ballot language will read, “The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for maintenance, improvement, repair, and construction projects and for the purchase of needed equipment.”
Texas State Parks stand to get $52 million in bond authority from Proposition 4 for 2008-2009, including $27 million for major repairs at parks across the state and $25 million to help fund a new dry berth for long-term preservation of the Battleship TEXAS.
Texas historic sites and courthouses would get $48 million from Proposition 4 for 2008-2009. That includes $17 million for needed repairs at 20 historic sites across Texas and $31 million to continue Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program matching grants for cities and towns statewide.
Proposition 4 would also improve statewide crime fighting by providing up to $200 million for 2008-2009 for the Department of Public Safety. This would pay for new and expanded crime labs serving law enforcement across Texas, which would speed up turnaround time for evidence analysis and prepare for caseload growth in the future. Most current crime labs are close to 30 years old with caseloads now up to eight times their original scope.
Proposition 4 would also fund a new Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (driving track) facility in Williamson County with driving training areas, classrooms and driving simulators to serve all Texas law enforcement agencies on a scheduled basis.
The proposition would also fund repair and renovation of mental health state schools and hospitals, critical deferred maintenance and asbestos abatement for state offices, construction of prison facilities (if needed), major maintenance projects at 14 Texas National Guard readiness centers and repairs at Camp Mabry in Austin, among other items.
Bonds such as those for Proposition 4 are like low-interest loans. The government sells bonds to investors, then pays them back with interest over time. Bonds are often used to fund deferred maintenance, which can prevent higher costs in the future.
A coalition of state agencies affected by Proposition 4 is working to help educate and inform voters, explaining how bond funds would be spent and how this would affect the public. State agencies are not advocating for or against the proposition, but they are urging citizens and state employees to get informed about Proposition 4 and exercise their right to vote.
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