If passed, Proposition 2 would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in general obligation bonds to help the state’s Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP).
The EDAP program is currently funded with G.O. bonds, however, whenever the Texas State Legislature wants to issue more bonds for the program Texas’ voters have to approve a constitutional amendment.
Texas’ Proposition 2 would allow the TWDB to continually issue bonds without voter approval, as long as the outstanding principal of the bonds doesn’t exceed $200 million. If the TWDB wants to issue more than $200 million the agency will have to seek an additional constitutional amendment.
The ballot measure would require the bonds to be used for developing the water supply and sewer service in areas considered economically distressed, primarily the Rio Grande Valley.
The authors of the proposed amendment’s enabling legislation, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) and state Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D- El Paso), consider the proposition crucial to providing water and wastewater services to the colonias along the border.
Advocates for the amendment argue that socioeconomic factors should not determine access to safe water.
Opponents have said that Texas’ Proposition 2 will create another constitutionally dedicated fund instead of requiring the legislature to pay for infrastructure improvements from the state’s general revenue.
Since it’s inception in 1989, EDAP has cost the taxpayers about $500 million. The initial bond creating the program authorized $250 million for the program.EDAP received an additional $250 million in general obligation bonds In 2007.
By June 2019 EDAP had exhausted all of its bond capacity, according to the Texas Senate Research Center.
Proposition 2 would also allow the TWDB to supplement its bond authority with other financial resources available to the agency.
The amendment’s enabling legislation also encourages the TWDB to explore public-private partnerships to maximize the effectiveness of the bonds.