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Texas Voters Weigh Proposed State Constitutional Amendments

Latest UH-TSU Survey Asked About Property Taxes, State Parks, Internet Access, Other Key Issues

HOUSTON, Oct. 23, 2023 — From expanding state parks and high-speed internet access to authorizing property tax relief and financing natural gas electricity-generating plants, a new survey suggests Texas voters are poised to approve some of the highest-profile proposed amendments to the state constitution.

The survey from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University asked likely voters about six of 14 proposed amendments on the ballot this fall.

Election Day is Nov. 7, and early voting is underway.


A new survey from University of Houston and Texas Southern University reveals strong support for several proposed amendments to the state constitution. Official voting day is Nov. 7. Early voting is happening now.
Photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

At least half of voters said they support all six, and four of the propositions drew support from more than 60% of voters.

“At a time when the state has reported a historic budget surplus, Texans appear ready to invest in the state’s future,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School and one of the survey’s researchers. “We found the highest support for amendments that would allow the state to finance new water and electric generating projects, which backers say are needed to prepare for the decades ahead.”

Seven out of 10 voters, or 70%, support Proposition 6, which would create a separate Texas Water Fund to help finance water projects across the state. Just 11% oppose the proposal, while 19% said they are unsure.

The numbers are similar for Proposition 7, which would create a separate Texas Energy Fund to help finance natural gas electricity generating projects, with 68% in favor and 15% opposed. An additional 17% said they are unsure.

A proposed amendment intended to lower property taxes, hammered out after two special sessions of the Legislature earlier this year, has drawn most of the attention, but 29%, say they are undecided. Still, 56% support Proposition 4, while just 15% oppose it.

Mark P. Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and senior research fellow at the Hobby School, said the enabling legislation is complex. “The proposition language is far and away the longest on the statewide ballot this fall and involves a variety of components, from raising the homestead exemption for school taxes from $40,000 to $100,000 to setting a 20% annual appraisal cap on non-homestead properties for the next few years, along with other protections for elderly and disabled homeowners.”

Despite the complexity, Jones noted that support outpaced opposition by 41 points, suggesting it is likely to pass.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, support is higher among homeowners, at 61%, than renters, at 47%. Two-thirds of men support the proposal, compared with 48% of women, as did 62% of white voters, compared with 50% of Latino voters and 47% of Black voters. Republican support is also high, at 62%, compared with 50% for both Democrats and Independents.

Michael O. Adams, director of the executive master of public affairs graduate program at the Jordan-Leland School, said researchers found considerably more unanimity in support for Proposition 14, which would allocate $1 billion to establish the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund. The money would be used to create new state parks and make improvements to existing parks.

“Texas ranks relatively low nationally in terms of protected land for state parks, and two out of three voters said they support this plan to ensure we do more to acquire and take care of our public lands,” Adams said. “With 67% support overall and just 15% opposed, the proposal drew support from all demographic groups, although it is strongest among younger voters and Democrats, with 74% of both groups backing the plan.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 50% of likely voters support Proposition 5, creating a $3.9 billion Texas University Fund for four public research universities that do not receive money from the state’s Permanent University Fund, including the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, Texas State University and the University of North Texas. Twenty-three percent are opposed and 27% are unsure.
  • 62% of voters support, with 16% opposed and 22% unsure, Proposition 8, which would allocate $1.5 billion to expand broadband internet access in economically distressed communities. But there were disparities among racial and ethnic groups, as well as age – 75% of Black voters support the proposal, compared with 61% of white voters and 64% of Latinos. 71% of millennial and Gen Z voters approve, compared with 59% of Gen X voters and 58% of baby boomers and members of the Silent Generation. And while 78% of Democrats are in support, that drops to 52% of Republicans and 46% of Independents.

The full report is available on the Hobby School website. Other proposed amendments deal with individual jurisdictions, did not involve an ongoing allocation of tax revenue or are more targeted and were not included in the survey. Future reports will look at attitudes toward private school vouchers, the 2024 primary elections, extreme weather, climate change and electric vehicles.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 6 and Oct. 18 in English and Spanish with 873 YouGov respondents 18 years of age and older, resulting in a confidence interval of +/-3.32. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education and are representative of likely voters in Texas.

—Story by Jeannie Kever

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