A good poll result for the water infrastructure Constitutional amendment.
Texans support $2 billion in water infrastructure financing by a better than 2-to-1 margin, but nearly a quarter haven’t decided how they will vote on the issue this November, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
The respondents favored the measure, known as Proposition 6, 52 percent to 19 percent. A quarter said they had not decided how they would vote.
Political leaders including Gov. Rick Perry have been urging voters across the state to pass the proposition, saying the state’s future depends on it. They have some work to do: Asked how much they have heard about the constitutional amendments on the November ballot, nearly one-half of the respondents said they had heard either “not very much” or “nothing at all.” Only 9 percent said they had heard “a lot” about the amendments.
“To me, there was not a big surprise here,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Policy Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “People reflexively support water funding. People are aware of the drought, we just got out of a hot summer. … There was a decent amount of public discourse.”
The poll found Texans put a high priority on public education, water, and roads and highways. Asked to rank those things, 73 percent said they consider addressing public education needs to be very important, 65 percent said the same about water, and 55 percent gave that highest importance to roads and highways.
And the respondents agree with the Legislature about who ought to be deciding the water issue: 75 percent said “it’s best to let the voters decide” big issues, while 16 percent said “we vote legislators into office to make big decisions.”
The crosstabs are here and the poll summary is here. As pollster Henson explained in a subsequent post, the trick to these low-turnout affairs is to guess who really is a “likely” voter. (See also: Polling in Houston Mayoral races.) The good news for the pro-Prop 6 forces is that they span the political spectrum and have a lot more money than the opponents. They also have better organization and frankly, a better argument than the naysayers.
Until now, there has been little opposition to the measure, and even those leading the fight describe the coalition as “informal.” It includes libertarians, property rights activists, tea party supporters and rural residents worried about losing access to water.
In Houston, Kathie Glass, a Libertarian candidate for governor, said she is opposed to the proposition because it would encourage more borrowing by local entities already buried in debt. “All this would add to our debt in an unknown and open-ended amount,” she said.
Policy experts said building reservoirs and other big-ticket projects to meet future demand that does not materialize will put the credit ratings of public water systems at risk and significantly increase tax and water bills for customers. At the same time, the fund, as designed, would allow municipalities seeking to build projects to raise money faster and less expensively than through usual channels.
“The state isn’t going into debt on this,” said Ronald Kaiser, a professor of water law and policy at Texas A&M University. “It’s using its savings so that local communities can invest in themselves.”
Color me shocked that it’s these folks making factually dubious claims. I understand why some environmental groups aren’t thrilled by Prop 6, but this strikes me as one of those times to be careful about the alliances of convenience one forms. All in all, I’d much rather be in the Prop 6 supporters’ position, and since I do support Prop 6, that’s fine by me.