Around the Capitol: Multiple elections in play; updates on the state’s finances and population
By Shayne Woodard, J Pete Laney and Lauren Spreen
TAD Governmental Affairs
Are you all registered and ready to vote? Election season is underway. First up is the Nov. 5 election on proposed state constitutional amendments (early voting starts Oct. 21). In a few areas of the state, ballots will include candidates for three state legislative seats that need to be filled with a special election after members resigned. Next up, state and federal candidates are lining up for March primaries and the November election next year.
Let’s take a look at the various ballots, starting with the Nov. 5 election.
Here’s a look at the 10 proposed amendments to the Texas constitution, with official language:
- Proposition 1 (HJR 72) – “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
- Proposition 2 (SJR 79) – “The constitutional amendment providing for 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.”
- Proposition 3 (HJR 34) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing 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 4 (HJR 38) – “The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”
- Proposition 5 (SJR 24) – “The constitutional amendment dedicating 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
- Proposition 6 (HJR 12) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”
- Proposition 7 (HJR 151) – “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
- Proposition 8 (HJR 4) – “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
- Proposition 9 (HJR 95) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
- Proposition 10 (SJR 32) – “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
For more information on the Nov. 5 election, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
Special legislative elections
In three legislative districts, ballots will include candidates to fill Texas House seats vacated by resignations. A total of 27 candidates have filed for the vacant seats. Members who resigned are:
- HD 28 – John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), resigned effective Sept. 30.
- HD 100 – Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) resigned on June 8 to become Mayor of Dallas.
- HD 148 – Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) resigned effective Sept. 30.
2020 elections – the latest
Of the 16 Texas Senate members who are up for reelection in 2020, one has announced retirement – SD 29, Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso). At this time, one candidate announced to fill the seat – Cesar Blanco, current Texas House member, who has the support of the entire El Paso legislative delegation.
Four incumbent House members have announced retirements:
- HD 10 John Wray (R-Waxahachie)
- HD 76 Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) – running for SD 29 seat
- HD 92 Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford)
- HD 138 Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston)
Note: Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) announced Sept. 25 that he would not seek reelection – two days later he changed his mind.
All 36 members of the Texas Congressional delegation are up for reelection in 2020. Six incumbents have announced retirements:
- CD 11 Mike Conaway (R-Midland)
- CD 13 Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon)
- CD 17 Bill Flores (R-Bryan)
- CD 22 Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land)
- CD 23 Will Hurd (R-Helotes)
- CD 24 Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton)
An update on state revenue in fiscal year 2019
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently released totals for fiscal 2019 state revenues (the state’s fiscal year 2019 is from Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019):
- General revenue-related revenue was $57.87 billion, up 1.2% over fiscal 2018
- Sales tax revenue for fiscal 2019 was $34.02 billion, up 6.5% from fiscal 2018
- Oil production tax revenue was $3.89 billion, up 14.6% over fiscal 2018
- Natural gas production tax revenue was $1.69 billion, up 17.8% over fiscal 2018
- All Funds tax collections were $59.38 billion, up 6.8% over fiscal 2018
- All Funds revenue was $127.94 billion, up 6.5% over fiscal 2018
Hegar said, “Yearly revenues were in line with our projections in the revised Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) released in May. As expected, the economy and state revenues continued to grow modestly.”
The Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), also known as the “Rainy Day Fund,” and State Highway Fund (SHF) both receive funding from oil and natural gas severance taxes. In November, the Comptroller’s office will deposit $1.67 billion in each of those funds, up from the $1.38 billion deposited in each fund in November 2018. The ESF is projected to have a balance of $7.8 billion at the end of fiscal 2020.
Changes in Texas’ population and demographics
The House Redistricting Committee kicked off its work recently with a presentation by the Texas State Demographer Dr. Lloyd B. Potter. The Texas Legislature is charged with redrawing (or redistricting) the state’s legislative and congressional districts based on population after each federal census.
Dr. Potter’s presentation included the following:
- 2010 census total population in Texas – 25,145,561
- 2020 estimated population – 29,677,668
- Population change in the U.S. between 2010 and 2018 – 6%
- Texas leads the country in population numbers and percentage of population growth at 14%.
- Based on this information, it is projected that Texas will add three new congressional seats.
Not surprisingly, Texas’ biggest population gains occurred in its largest counties, while rural counties continue to lose residents. The 10 counties with the largest population declines since the 2010 census are: Castro (-959), Clay (-965), Parmer (-1,069), Kleberg (-1,074), Houston (-1,112), Lamb (-1,201), Deaf Smith (-1,229), Falls (-1,263), Presidio (-1,912), and Hale (-3,071).
Many of the same counties are expected to chart the state’s largest percentage population drops in the 2020 census Sabine (-8%), Hale (-8%), Lamb (-9%), Clay (-9%), Jeff Davis (-10%), Floyd (-10%), Parmer (-10%), Dickens (-11%), Castro (-12%), and Presidio (-24%).