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them, particularly when a state income tax is the best way to provide equitable statewide financing of public schools. Anti-tax conservatives, smelling this kind of Trojan horse, would rather adopt a prohibition against an income tax, which would then require a two-thirds majority of the Legislature and another statewide vote before a personal income tax could be implemented. It’s hard to argue that the people should not have the final vote on implementing an income tax, but let’s put it this way: Vote against Proposition 4 and hope the Legislature takes it as a sign to adopt an income tax to put some equity in the state’s tax structure. It probably will not, of course. The Legislature will continue to dither and respond to fluxes of public animus against any sort of tax. Texas’ huge unmet needs in education, health and human services cannot be addressed by lottery revenue alone. If the Legislature ever works up the courage to embrace an income tax, we would rather not give the monied interests a second chance to confuse the issue during a general election. We agree with the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and the Texas Affiance for Human Needs in calling Proposition 4 bad public policy. Proposition 5 would authorize the Legislature to prescribe qualifications for sheriffs. Texas law currently sets no minimum qualifications for sheriffs, despite the responsibilities and complexities of the job. As the county’s chief law enforcement officer, sheriffs should have a core knowledge about jail standards, constitutional law and arrest, search and seizure. The implementing law would require them to be licensed within two years of taking office, which is a reasonable time, as constables have found. We vote yes. Proposition 6 would abolish the office of county surveyor in Jackson County. We’ll pass on this, instead voting yes for Proposition 15, which gives voters in each county the final say. Proposition 7 would repeal the prohibition against issuing stock for an amount greater than its value. The provision was adopted in 1875 to prohibit “stock watering,” or the issuance of stock with a face value greater than the amount paid for it, after the Credit Mobilier scandal, in which a construction company issued $3,500 in stock for every $1,000 invested in the company, prompted the Panic of 1873. The abuses are now treated by other laws regulating securities and business associations, supporters of the proposition say. The constitution now prohibits stock from being offered as an employment consideration or as a hiring incentive, but it also protects against some shady business practices. Although rarely used, in three of five recent cases where it was an issue it has protected injured parties where the rights of the prevailing parties were not safeguarded by other statutes or regulations. Vote no. Proposition 8 would authorize the McLennan County Commissioners Court to abolish the county surveyor’s office. Again, we prefer Proposition 15. Proposition 9 would limit the right to redeem property sold for back taxes. Former owners now have two years to redeem any property sold to pay off a tax debt as long as they paid the purchase price plus a penalty. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to limit redemption rights on property other than homesteads or land designated for agricultural use. Former owners of non-protected properties would have six months to redeem the property. As House Research noted, people could lose a rent house or an undeveloped lot because of fmancial difficulties or an economic downturn; in some cases they might lose the property before they were properly notified. We vote no. Proposition 10 would authorize the Veterans’ Land Board to issue $750 million in bonds to finance low-interest loans. The board assists with land and housing purchases at little cost and almost no financial risk to the state. Since 1949 it has never had to rely on general revenue. We vote yes. Proposition 11 would clarify that the duty of trustees of local public pension systems is to benefit the system’s participants and beneficiaries. It would prevent local governments from raiding pension funds in case of a fiscal crisis. We vote yes. Proposition 12 would authorize a judge to deny bail to persons on probation or parole. charged with certain violent and/or sexual offenses, including murder; assault, kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault when a weapon is used; and sexual assault or indecency with a child. This is an inappropriate attempt to create yet another exception to the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. At any rate, the state already has the authority to keep behind bars a person who violates the conditions of his or her release; a judge can deny bail in cases when the accused has a previous criminal history, but only after a hearing and presentation of evidence substantially indicating the guilt of the accused; and a court can set bail as high as is ‘appropriate to the case at hand: We vote no. Proposition 13 would add the four campuses of the Texas State Technical College System to the list of 26 state universities that receive Higher Education Assistance Funds to buy land, construct, equip and repair buildings and to buy equipment, books and materials. The trade school would get no more than 2.2 percent of available money. We vote yes. Proposition 14 would authorize another $1 bil lion in bonds to build more corrections facilities, including state jails with room for 22,000 beds for non-violent prisoners. The state prison system now has 60,000 beds. Since 1987, voters have approved $2 billion in general obligation bonds to finance construction of prisons for adults and youths. The capacity of the corrections system will be about 116,450 by fiscal 1996 when all currently authorized cells are completed. Funds left over from the 1991 issue of $1.1 billion in bonds already will pay for 10,000 state jail beds. We vote no. The additional prison and state jail cells only encourage counties to place more nonviolent offenders behind bars instead of opting for community-based programs such as electronic monitoring, intensive supervision and adult education. As Texas Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants noted, from 1982 to 1992 the Texas prison population increased 50 percent while violent crime increased 40 percent. During this period over 40 percent of released prisoners returned to prison within three years. Prisons have become trade schools for crime. The Department of Criminal Justice this past spring received a 38-percent increase in its biennial general revenue appropriation, with the bulk of that $3 billion going to operate prisons. Health and human services received a 23-percent budget increase, mainly to cover federally mandated programs, and education received only a 6-percent increase. Tax dollars would be better spent addressing the problems at the root of crime, such as lack of education, health care, substance abuse rehabilitation, counseling and jobs. Proposition 15 would authorize local elections to abolish the elected office of county surveyor. The post was important in the state’s early days but as it has become largely obsolete only 90 counties have bothered to elect county surveyors in recent years, while 13 others have gotten their county surveyors’ offices abolished; voters in each county should be able to decide whether it is now antiquated. We vote yes. Proposition 16 would authorize the issuance of $75 billion in bonds for agricultural business loans. This is a worthy program initiated by former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower and continued under incumbent Commissioner Rick Perry. Implementing legislation also would require the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority to make a good-faith effort to award minority-owned businesses at least 20 percent of the contracts related to issuance of the bonds as well as total loan guarantees under the program, while women-owned businesses would get at least 10 percent of the business and loans. We vote yes. Early voting for the constitutional amendments continues through October 29 in addition to the general election day, November 2. For voting places call your county clerk.J.C., L.D. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5