Texas voters easily pass 7 constitutional amendments
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Voters statewide approved all seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on Tuesday - giving themselves tax breaks, cementing their rights to hunt and fish, pumping billions of extra public dollars into roads and freeing some top elected officials from having to live in the state capital.
Gov. Greg Abbott said by passing every measure by wide margins, Texans "are creating an even better place for future generations to live, work and raise a family."
Here's a guide to what happened on Election Day:
TAX CUTS COMING
Voters approved Proposition 1, which will increase homeowners' school property tax homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000, saving the average family roughly $125 annually while costing the state about $1.2 billion in tax revenue for school districts during the first two years.
The Legislature has budgeted extra funding so schools won't see shortfalls, at least in the short term.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate, said the proposition's "huge margin of victory" will "give us the clout to do more property tax relief" during the next legislative session in 2017.
Also passing was Proposition 2, which offers property tax exemptions to the spouses of totally disabled veterans who died before January 2010. Similar exemptions already exist for spouses of totally disabled veterans who died in 2011 or later.
ANYWHERE BUT AUSTIN
The land and agriculture commissioners, comptroller, attorney general and members of the Railroad Commission will be allowed to live somewhere other than Austin under Proposition 3.
Supporters argued that modern technology allows elected officials to do their jobs from anywhere. None of the current holders of eligible offices have acknowledged any plans to move away from the Texas capital, however.
The amendment won't apply to the governor and the 1856 Greek Revival-style Austin mansion he occupies. It also has no effect on the lieutenant governor, Texas Supreme Court justices or Court of Criminal Appeals judges.
Passage of Proposition 4 means professional teams can hold charitable raffles at all home games. That's good news for supporters, which included the Dallas Cowboys and most of the state's top sports franchises.
Proposition 6 "recognizes the right for people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife" and will protect those activities from future lawsuits.
Though such legal challenges have been sparse, Texas now joins 18 other states in solidifying such guarantees in their constitutions.
ROAD FUNDING BONANZA
Proposition 5 lets counties with fewer than 7,500 people privatize road construction and maintenance - up from the current maximum of 5,000 residents. About 70 counties qualify.
And Proposition 7 means that when sales tax revenue exceeds $28 billion per fiscal year, the next $2.5 billion would go to road construction and maintenance starting in September 2017.
Then, beginning in September 2019, if tax revenue from vehicle sales and rentals exceeds $5 billion per fiscal year, 35 percent of the amount exceeding $5 billion would go to road funding.
The amendment allows the GOP-controlled Legislature to bolster transportation infrastructure strained by Texas' booming population without raising taxes.
"Prop 7 will provide an efficient way to dedicate a portion of our sales tax revenue to build the roads that our children and grandchildren will use," said Rep. Joe Pickett, an El Paso Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee. "All we are doing is taking the success of the Texas economy and dedicating a portion of it to transportation."
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