Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The amendment election went as expected across the state. A five percent voter turnout in Milam County matched the statewide average. Pitiful. Yeah, some of you think maybe the amendments really did not affect each of us, but the fact that no one cares is one of the major problems with this country today.

It really amazes me just how naive, or perhaps just plain dumb, some people can be. There were several amendments that will in fact affect all of us. One in particular will result in the average landowner paying more taxes in the future.

SJR 14 Proposition number one amended the constitution to authorize the legislature to provide the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran with an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried, the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the qualifying veteran died, and the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.

Since the amendment passed those meeting the requirements will get an exemption from property taxes. Do not get me wrong I definitely am not against veterans or their surviving spouses, but the reality is that the lost tax revenue for all taxing entities will have to be made up somewhere.

Have you ever considered how many exemptions there are for taxes in Texas? Both property and sales tax codes allow for many exemptions. For property there is the homestead exemption, over 65 exemption, renewable energy exemption, wildlife conservation exemption and agricultural exemption to name a few.

Each and every exemption takes money away from the state, city, county and school tax base. As a result those of us that do not qualify for an exemption get to pick up the slack for those that do. Granted many exemptions are good and for a good cause. The point is the revenue has to be made up somewhere.

This last amendment election was once again a notice to Texas that it is time to revamp some things. We have been doing business as usual for way too long. A good example of this was Proposition Number 7, SJR 28.

SJR 28 would have amended the constitution by adding El Paso County to the list of counties authorized to create conservation and reclamation districts to develop parks and recreational facilities financed by taxes. Why is it the entire state of Texas votes on an issue that affects only El Paso County? Local control? I don't think so.

It is time for our leaders to take a look at revamping the constitution which the state now operates under. Might also be time to look at the tax code and the way we do things. Some say removal of exemptions would lower the tax rates for everyone.

I mention all of the above in making a point that we all need to be more involved in what is going on in government. Granted the Federal government is way too complicated and closed for most of us to even begin to catch a clue. We have to rely on the media, and we all know one needs to be very careful about their sources.

When five percent of the voters are making all of the decisions it is no wonder the rest of us are a little discouraged about government. Everyone is busy and it does take time to educate yourself. However, time invested in trying to understand what is going on will be time well spent. Just remember this that it's your own damn fault if you do not get out and vote.

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