Real estate wins big at Texas ballot box

Voters approved high-profile priorities, including property taxes and water access

Texans approve Real Estate Ballot Priorities
Texas Realtors' Marcus Phipps, Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (Texas Realtors, Getty)

In Tuesday’s election, Texans overwhelmingly supported ballot measures backed by the state’s real estate industry.

The new provisions will add billions of dollars in property tax cuts to the state constitution, a win for residential and commercial property owners. It will also endow major funds to acquire new parks and expand the state’s water, energy and broadband infrastructure. 

Here’s how real estate’s top measures fared:

Proposition One, a.k.a. the “right to farm” bill: Approved 79 percent – 21 percent

This measure guarantees landowners can farm, ranch, manage wildlife or produce timber on their own land, so long as it doesn’t present a clear public health danger. 

The Austin Chronicle argued it would create “unreasonably high standards” for municipalities to sue over public health threats like pesticide overuse. The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, which represents smaller farmers, also lobbied against the bill. 

Proposition Four, a.k.a. the property tax cut deal: Approved 83 percent – 17 percent

Voters approved the property tax plan, the result of arguably the most divisive bill of the legislative session. Now, the homestead tax exemption will increase to $100,000, with the state pumping extra money into public schools to make up for lost tax revenue. That means a person who owns a $400,000 home will only pay taxes on $300,000 of that value. 

Marcus Phipps, the chairman of Texas Realtors, a powerful lobbying organization at the Capitol, said his group is “over the moon” with the proposal. 

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Proposition Six, a.k.a. the water fund: Approved 78 percent – 22 percent

Proposition Seven, a.k.a. the energy fund: Approved 65 percent – 35 percent

Proposition Eight, a.k.a. the broadband fund: Approved 69 percent – 31 percent

These measures will create ambitious funds to secure the state’s access to water, energy and broadband.

Proposition Six establishes the Texas Water Fund, a $1 billion fund that would support a bevy of the state’s water priorities. Proposition Seven sets aside $5 billion to establish the Texas Energy Fund, which would give low-interest loans to construct or upgrade gas-fueled power plants. Lastly, Proposition Eight allocates $1.5 billion to expand internet access across the state, where some 7 million people do not have access. 

Texas Realtors heavily supported the propositions, as they will allow the state to continue growing and housing new residents.

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Proposition 14, a.k.a. the centennial parks fund: Approved 77 percent – 23 percent

Voters approved a $1 billion fund to acquire and develop new parks across the state. The decision comes as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department faces down a battle over Fairfield Lake State Park, a large expanse outside Dallas that was previously leased as a state park, but has since been bought by developer Todd Interests. 

The state would use eminent domain to take the land. During the fight, Parks has promised not to use eminent domain outside of extenuating circumstances, and the new funding gives it the bankroll to grow.