(Community Matters) I voted yes for the Central Health Tax Ratification Prop 1, yes for all City of Austin bonds (city of Austin propositions 12 – 18), yes for City of Austin Propositions 1, 2 & 4. I voted No for Prop 3.
Central Health Prop 1 is about bringing a medical school to Austin – and it means so much more. It means doctors, centers of excellence (like a comprehensive cancer center), more & higher quality healthcare for the poor, and jobs – lots and lots of jobs. A Catholic charity isn’t going to run the medical school. It’ll be part of UT. Yes Seton will be a big part; hopefully, St David’s will be too. These two organizations need to grow up and learn to play nice together. It’s about Central Texan’s health!
Contrary to misstatements otherwise, Austin’s been frugal in the issuance of BONDS. We’ve retained our triple-A rating, and we’ve almost always been judicious in the issuance of debt. Whether or not we like it, this city doubles in population every twenty years. The same reasons you and I moved here, others are on their way. We are investing in Transportation & Mobility, Open Space & Watershed Protection, Parks & Recreation, Affordable Housing, Public Safety, Health & Human Services, and Libraries, Museum & the Cultural Arts. If we don’t, quality of life will diminish.
I am simultaneously mindful of the rising cost of living in Austin. After hearing about the increases in city, county & school district taxes, I had to think long and hard about this. At first I was adverse to these modest increases, then I remembered, our federal & state governments are doing less and less for citizens – cutting taxes (especially for the wealthiest Americans) while spending more on wars and decreasing funding for essential services. Texas under Gov Perry & the GOP is cutting funding for services and education – though spending hundreds of millions on failed privatizations which have enriched friends. I’m proud to live in a community which rises to the responsibility of providing for its citizens. Property taxes are much less regressive than income taxes, however. And, we’ve got to do more to preserve affordability for all Austinites. We risk what makes us special, creative and weird.
City of Austin Props 1 & 2 are about moving city elections to November when more people will vote. Props 3 & 4 are two alternative ways to increase accountability of and representation by our council members. Prop 4 ensures that 3 of 11 council members have the perspective of the entire city when they represent voters – joined by 8 council members who are answerable to specific geographies of our city. Prop 3, while also well intentioned, in my mind is overly restrictive since only the mayor would be elected at large. I am mindful of concerns about an African American representative and feel confident that Austinites will prioritize diversity on the council.
I’m staying away from partisan and individual elections. More on all choices in front of Central Texas voters in this League of Women Voters Guide.