Plan That Would Increase Water Capacity Goes to Voters

Lawmakers across the Texas Capitol are tearing rotator cuffs patting themselves on the back for finding a way to pay for desperately needed water infrastructure projects.

"This is making history. We're securing the future of our great state by making sure that Texas has the water it needs for decades to come," Gov. Rick Perry said at Monday's bill signing for House Bill 4, which is a crucial part of lawmakers' efforts this session to fund a water plan.

Crucial, but not singular. Spending money to increase water capacity in Texas took a few bills this session, including one that generated a constitutional proposition and much legislative debate.

The Senate wanted Texas voters to have the final say on whether or not the state took $2 billion out of the Rainy Day Fund to pay for water infrastructure projects. The House and its lead budget writer, state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said no deal.

"We insisted that we were not going to start doing a referendum type of government in Texas, like they do in California," Pitts said. "We were elected, 150 members over here and 31 members over there, to make these decisions."

Instead, the Legislature appropriated that $2 billion on its own. But that move still leaves voters in charge in November, because without passage of a constitutional amendment to create the bank accounts to put the money in, the $2 billion can't be spent.

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