There is a little-discussed provision in Proposition A which will commit Houston taxpayers to the Rebuild Houston debacle through 2031, and perhaps beyond. The provision reads as follows:
“This Section is subject to modification as permitted by law or termination at the end of fiscal year 2031 (i.e., after 20 years of operation) if during fiscal year 2030 (i.e. 19th year of operation) such modification or termination is authorized by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the City Council following a public hearing on the matter. If not so terminated, this Section shall continue in full force and effect for successive 20 year periods, subject in each case to modification or termination in the same manner.”
This attempt to shackle Houston taxpayers to a program that has delivered on none of its promises by locking it in for another 13 years and requiring a supermajority to repeal or modify it is truly outrageous. It is undemocratic and, I suspect, unconstitutional. Of course, fighting that battle would take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, for we have seen the City has no compunction about pursing frivolous litigation.
Of course, the existence of this provision has never been discussed at any of the City “informational” town hall meetings. Nor it is disclosed in the language that voters will see on the ballot. It is something about which Rebuild proponents clearly would prefer voters not know.
I would suggest that the question that Houstonians should ask themselves is this:
If Rebuild Houston is going to produce such spectacular results in the future, why do the proponents feel the need to make it unrepealable or require a two-thirds vote of Council to modify it?