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scribed the losses one pension fund had suffered because of real-estate investments. Will the next step be authorizing the retirement systems to invest in the new state lottery? Worth Voting For But there are worthy amendments, including Proposition 12, which would increase the amount of water development bond money that could go to build and expand water systems in colonias, or rural subdivisions, mainly along the Rio Grande. The proposed $250 million is a more realistic amount to prevent Third-World-style public health problems for more than 200,000 residents of colonias at a minimum cost to the state since residents of the affected colonias are expected to repay the loans through the local governments that underwrite them, and they have a good record of repayment. The Observer is joined by the League of Women Voters of Texas in support of Proposition 12, and interested groups such as Valley Interfaith are not taking the election for granted. A Sept. 22 rally in Edinburg drew more than 1,200, including many residents of the colonias, and they pledged to get out the vote for the proposition. They hope the initiative will not suffer the same fate as a proposition that failed in August to authorize $300 million in general obligation bonds to finance higher education student loans. Voters rejected that proposition when its sponsors, preoccupied with the special legislative session, failed to get the message out that the’program was self-financing. The Legislature put it back on the November ballot and in this form Proposition 13 once again merits the approval of voters. The proceeds from the bonds would be used for student loans under the Hinson-Hazelwood College Student Loan Program. Repayment of the loans will retire the bonds. State money has never been used to retire the bonds and the default rate of the student loans has been ayproximately 6 percent, considerably less than the 16 percent national average. Moreover, all defaults are covered by interest earnings or by a federal insurance program so there is minimal risk to the state. In light of shrinking federal financial aid for students, it is important that the state support programs that assist them in paying for a college education. The loan program not only makes loans available to students, but it also promotes college attendance and ultimately contributes to the state’s economy. Proposition 8 would change the process by which debt is authorized. The Observer supports this proposition and so does the League of Women Voters. The Legislature would still need two-thirds majorities in both houses to submit each new bond issue for a statewide vote, but the propositions would describe the amount, purpose and repayment source of each proposed debt, which is more disclosure than voters now get. Elections would require the same notice that is required to amend the Constitution. Proposition 10, allowing tax exemptions for nonprofit water supply corporations, would encourage formation of cooperatives to develop water resources and wastewater services, which would help reduce nonpoint source pollution. It would treat the nonprofit water supply corporations the same as public water utilities, which are tax exempt. In many areas, particularly in rural Texas, water supply corporations are required to have miles of pipelines to serve their customers. Collection of property taxes on these pipelines only increases the costs to customers. On the other amendments wheie the issues are less clearcut, we offer some observations. On Proposition 2, which would allow the Transportation to lend money to the Turnpike Authority, the Observer has reservations about the proliferation of toll roads in a state whose residents already pay enough in motor fuels taxes to support a free highway system. The amendment would help the Turnpike Authority save money on turnpike projects. It also would make it easier for the Turnpike Authority to seek money from the federal government, which recognizes only one state agency as the recipient of highway funds. Proposition 5, dealing with the freeport tax exemptions, might be considered special-interest legislation. It is designed to attract warehouses to Texas by reducing their potential tax liability. From its adoption in 1876 through August 1991, the Texas Constitution has been amended 328 times out of 489 tries, so the electorate has not been a rubber stamp, and we hope it will reject at least two or three this time. Early voting will run through Nov. 1 at the county clerk’s office or other designated polling places. Polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. J.C. Information was obtained from analyses provided by the League of Women Voters and the Texas Legislative Council. New Associate Editor We are pleased to announce the appointment of James M. Cullen, a veteran newspaper reporter, as the new associate editor of the Observer. He was selected from a strong field of applicants in September and began work with this issue. From 1983 to 1989 he was political writer for the Beaumont Enterprise. In that position, he covered the Texas and Louisiana legislatures, county government, courts, and higher education, and reported on local, state, and national politics and wrote a weekly column on politics. From 1989 to March 1991, Cullen was state Capitol reporter, covering the Texas legislature and state agencies, for the four Hearst newspapers in Beaumont, Laredo, Midland, and Plainview. During this period he also wrote a weekly column on state government and public policy. He covered border issues of interest to Laredo readers, oil and gas issues of interest to people in Midland, farm issues for Plainview readers, and coastal and environmental issues of special interest to Beaumont. Briefly this year he was the editor of the Austin Weekly, a community newspaper which was trying to position itself as a weekly alternative to the Austin American-Statesman before suspending publication. Cullen is 37. He received a .BA degree with honors in politics from the University of Dallas in 1976. During his first seven months out of college he started up an alternative weekly in Dallas, the . Dallas Gazette. In 1977 and 1978 he was a reporter covering police, city hall, and general assignments for the Irving Daily News, for which he wrote a weekly column on city affairs. As education writer for the Shreveport Times from 1978 to 1980, he reported on metropolitan school systems, state education agencies, and other matters. At the Longview Morning Journal between 1980 and 1983, he was a general assignments reporter and again wrote a weekly feature column. Cullen has won various journalistic awards: Unity Awards in Media, National Newspaper Association community service report and Hearst Community Newspapers writing contests, 1985; honorable mention, 1986 Texas APME awards; second place in features, 1983 Texas APME; second in column writing, 1982 Texas APME; and first for team effort, 1980APME \(all the APME awards having In his letter of application, Cullen said: “I believe the strengths of the Observer are in covering areas of Texas that continue to escape the attention of the mainstream news media, whether those areas be the colonias of South Texas, the housing projects of Houston or Dallas, or behind the Pine Curtain in East Texas, but there is still a need to give context to state government and state affairs from a liberal or progressive point of view. “I also think,” Cullen said, “the Observer should be challenging assumptions, not only of young people who have grown up in the conservative era of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but also of some professed liberals who have not had original thoughts since the early 1970s. “Most important, the magazine should be lively and raise hell, so that it attracts the best writers in the state as well as the best readers.” R.D THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5