Texas Continues Push for 2 Billion Water Project Funding

A favorable ballot, high-level support and dry weather are boosting the campaign to put $2 billion toward building water projects, experts say. A poll released Tuesday shows more Texans on board with the state constitutional amendment than against it.

About 49 percent of Texans likely to vote in the November election are in favor of Proposition 6, the Nov. 5 water-funding measure, while 36 percent oppose it, according to a Texas Lyceum poll of likely voters.

But even with a lead and a historic dry spell keeping voters? attention, an expected small turnout keeps the opposition in the game. The constitutional amendment would put $2 billion from the state?s rainy day fund into a water infrastructure bank administered by the Texas Water Development Board to finance water projects outlined in the state water plan.

Dan McClung, a Houston Democratic political strategist, said the rest of the statewide ballot could help with the effort to pass the measure. ?I don?t know anything on that ballot that?s going to be more interesting to people than water,? he said.

Water Texas, the pre-eminent campaign promoting Proposition 6, is headed by House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, and supported by the majority of Texas lawmakers and chambers of commerce in major cities. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry have also been campaigning for the measure. That?s in addition to the focusing effect of the drought.

?Most Texans have felt the impact of the drought personally ? whether through water restrictions, lost trees and landscape plants, damage to foundations, or lost crops and revenue for farmers and rancher,? said Sean Haynes, spokesman for the Water Texas political action committee.

The poll released Tuesday by the Texas Lyceum, a nonpartisan state leadership group, included 611 likely voters reached by phone Sept. 6-20. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Passage of the proposition is no slam dunk even with lawmakers? broad support and the weight of drought on the state. The opposition is small and has less money, but with the November turnout expected to be minuscule, a small swing in votes could make a big difference.

?In 2009, more people voted in the New York City mayor?s election than here in Texas in our constitutional amendment election,? said Austin political consultant Luke Marchant.

A group called Independent Texans organized in mid-September to oppose Proposition 6. Linda Curtis, the nonpartisan political action committee?s director, drew more than 100 people to its convention. Curtis? group has called the measure a handout for special interests that will help major cities grow at the expense of rural areas.

Information in this news update was reported by The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 1.?

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