Published Sep 29, 2023 by Taylor Landin
In the weeks before early voting, the Greater Houston Partnership will share essential information on key ballot initiatives impacting our region. This week, we focus on state propositions 5 and 6, which would allow Texas to invest in its higher education system and improve deteriorating water infrastructure.
On November 7, Texas will hold a statewide general election, allowing voters to decide on 14 to the state’s constitution. Since Houston will be the only major city in Texas conducting local elections, Houston voters will disproportionately impact the statewide results. In this general election, Texas could invest in its higher education system, improve deteriorating water infrastructure, expand equitable broadband access, and incentivize biomedical manufacturing and job creation. In addition, Harris County could receive much-needed funds to enhance and expand the Harris Health System.
A strong college-educated talent pipeline is becoming increasingly important to attract the companies and investments that can power economies for decades. There are just two national top 50 public universities in Texas: The University of Texas at Austin (ranked 9th) and Texas A&M (ranked 20th). Consequently, Texas is ranked 23rd nationally in the number of students attending a top 50 public university.
With the goal of elevating other Texas universities to top-50 status and improving Texas’ competitiveness, the 2023 Legislature passed House Bill 1595 and House Joint Resolution 3, which will establish the Texas University Fund (TUF). The TUF is a permanent $3.4 billion research endowment that will appropriate up to $100 million dollars annually to four Texas public universities, including the University of Houston.
Why it matters: This historic investment will strengthen Texas’ higher education institutions by providing the necessary funding to improve Texas universities’ national rankings, which will help the state attract top talent and reduce “brain drain.” Additionally, it will allow Texas schools to compete for federal research grants, secure private research funding, drive increased alumni support, and position Texas as a top destination for premier higher education.
What’s next: Establishing the fund is contingent on voters passing Proposition 5. The Partnership urges support for the constitutional amendment creating the Texas University Fund, which will expand educational opportunities for all Texas students and strengthen the state’s economy.
According to the most recent State Water Plan, the population in Texas is expected to grow by 73 percent from 2020 to 2070, while the water demands are projected to rise by nine percent. Meanwhile, the existing water supply is expected to decline by around 18 percent. The result would be a crisis-level water shortage of 6.9 million acre-feet per year by 2070.
To address this need, the Texas Legislature passed a constitutional amendment to establish the New Water Supply Fund, the Texas Water Fund, and the Statewide Water Public Awareness Account and put dollars toward crumbling water infrastructure across the state. The measure will help address future shortfalls by enabling the state to take on new water infrastructure projects, thereby increasing access to water for residents.
What’s next: Establishing these funds and funding is contingent on voters passing Proposition 6. The Partnership urges support for the constitutional amendment creating the Texas Water Fund to assist in financing water projects in Texas.
Important Election Information:
Find more information on each of these ballot measures supported by the Greater Houston Partnership at Houston.org/2023ballot.