Are you familiar with the controversial Prop 1 that will be facing Houston’s voters at the ballot box? I’m sure that some have heard about it and are sure it is some kind of joke, but the sad truth is it isn’t. Prop 1, also known as the Renew Houston initiative, is the city’s attempt at raising money to fix some of Houston’s flooding issues. Houston floods at the drop of a hat, so of course this is a good thing – unless you care at all about education. As it reads now, Prop 1 has no details on any exemptions for any of its taxpayers, including churches, non-profits, or even our schools! HISD has already made it known that in order to pay the nearly 3 million in fees that would exist if Prop1 passes, they will have to let a number of teachers go.
Now another question arises. Do we have faith in what Mayor Parker has said concerning the use of the funds if the proposition passes? In a recent press conference she claimed that, instead of their usual way of spreading money all over the place on multiple projects, this time it will be based on the specific drainage needs by priority. Supposedly the city will only spend as money becomes available instead of going into debt to complete projects. They also claim they will prioritize the areas of the city most in need and do that work first. In theory, it all sounds good, but will the passage of Prop 1 really cost us more than we can afford? What have they proven to us in the past? Can they be trusted to do as they say?
While Texas law exempts state agencies and institutions of higher learning from paying for the fee, all other property owners, school districts and churches will be paying. In the current state of the economy, can we afford to do this? The arguments on both sides are compelling. We DO need improvements to the drainage issues, as Houston has been brought to a near stand-still from flooding issues in the past. We DO need teachers in our schools too. If what HISD has reported is true, there will be major cuts to the budget in order to cover the extensive fees under this plan.
Where does this leave us, you may ask. For many, the answer is sitting square on the middle of the fence. Maybe, as citizens and taxpayers, we should be asking the city what the other realistic options are. Houston’s drainage issues have been here for years…what have they done so far? Has the money spent and debts incurred proven to aid in this problem? That all depends on what part of the city you’re in. Is this proposition really going to be different from their usual pattern of starting things everywhere and finishing few projects in their entirety? Should HISD really have to cut so much our students will be hurt by it?
Houston needs to fix the flooding problem, but maybe, just maybe, there IS some other way. We, as voters, need to examine every aspect of Prop 1 to ensure that our city is doing what is best for everyone, not just themselves. Should our taxpayers and young students really be the ones paying the highest price for what Houston has failed to fix for many years? I think not.