Supporters Of Prop. 6 More Worried About Ignorance Than Opposition

On Nov. 5, Houstonians will go to the polls. On the ballot will not only be candidates for mayor and city council, but also a statewide referendum that’s meant to address the state's water shortage. Support runs high among politicians of all colors — but supporters of Proposition 6 are afraid that not enough voters know about it.

Proposition 6 is a constitutional amendment that would allow for directing $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to a newly established “State Water Implementation Fund for Texas.”

This is political scientist Bob Stein of Rice University.

“Entities all over the state — cities, counties, special water districts — could borrow against that fund at rather reduced and very forgivable rates in order to establish water projects that would enhance availability of water.”

There’s a strong push by politicians across ideology and party lines — from Republican Gov. Rick Perry to state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) — to approve Prop. 6.

That translates to voters. In a poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, 52 percent say they support the amendment, while 19 percent oppose it. 24 percent are undecided.

Stein says because organized support for Prop. 6 is so strong, chances are good that it’ll pass.

“Voters, if they’re going to support this, are going to largely do it, largely, and simply knowing who has endorsed it. And this is of course a Republican state, red from top to bottom pretty much.”

It’s something Heidi Thiess, League City council member and tea party activist, knows. She says Proposition 6 is a con by legislators to divert their responsibility to voters — knowing that there’s a deep concern about the state’s water shortage.

Thiess says after the Legislature failed to balance the budget without making painful cuts in 2011, they had to fill those holes in this year’s legislative session.

“They should have been spending that revenue on water and transportation issues. So the Legislature is now just trying to cover their mismanagement. They’re coming back to the voters and they’re playing on fears with the voters, and they’re not letting voters know that they still have $6.3 billion in bonding authority that they haven’t even touched yet.”

Thiess is talking about previous constitutional amendments in 2001 and 2011 that dealt with the water shortage.

But Prop. 6 supporters like state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston are more worried about voters’ unawareness than opposition.

“I’m concerned that people simply will not be aware that Proposition 6 is on the ballot and simply will not vote on it, period. Then I’m concerned that they’ll see it and they’ll think because we’ve been experiencing rainfall that the need is not there, and will either vote no or simply won’t vote at all.”

Proposition 6 will appear on ballots throughout Texas on Nov. 5.

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Florian Martin

Reporter/NewsLab Coordinator

Florian Martin is the KUHF NewsLab Coordinator. While guiding and overseeing interns, he works on his own stories and is always on call to cover breaking news and other media events...