Vote YES for Proposition 6: Water Plan Funding
On November 5, 2013, Texans will have an opportunity to vote for a constitutional amendment that will have one of the most significant impacts in history for funding our state’s water needs. Proposition 6 provides for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to finance priority projects that were identified in the State Water Plan. To accomplish this, the funds will be capitalized by a one-time appropriation of $2 billion from the state’s economic stabilization fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”). The funds will be used to provide low-interest loans, credit enhancement agreements, deferral of interest obligations, and other methods of financial assistance for public water supply entities.
How will the funds be used?These funds must be used specifically to support projects identified in the State Water Plan which will be administered by the state Water Development Board. The board must attempt to spend 10% of the funds for rural political subdivisions and agricultural water conservation and 20% for water conservation and reuse.
Is this a fiscally responsible use of the rainy day fund?The rainy day fund (RDF) is funded by revenues from the oil and gas severance tax – 75% of the amount collected over and above the amount collected in 1987 is deposited to the RDF. Over $2 billion is expected to be deposited to the RDF each year over the next two years due to substantial oil and gas drilling. By the end of 2015, the RDF is expected to have a balance of almost $10 billion even after the $2 billion transfer for the water plan. In addition, because this $2 billion will be used for loans, it is expected that the funds will be loaned, repaid, and re-loaned, providing a replenishing fund to support a majority of the state’s water needs for the next 50 years.
As civil engineers we understand that investment in our infrastructure has a direct impact on the economic vitality of our state. I encourage you to VOTE YES for Proposition 6 on November 5, but more importantly I encourage you to discuss the significance of this proposition with friends, family and neighbors. The future of water in Texas depends on citizens like us to get the word out and educate voters!
Rachel R. Hayden, P.E.
Hayden Consultants, Inc.
ASCE Texas Section Committee on Public Relations and Professional Image