Supporters, opponents of Prop 1 try to win over voters

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

kvue.com

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 15 at 5:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Should Travis County homeowners pay higher property taxes to support a new medical school? Voters decide on Nov. 6. Between now and then, both supporters and opponents are doing all they can to make their case.

In the few weeks left before voters head to the polls, State Senator Kirk Watson continues to push for Proposition 1.

“One in five in Travis County are uninsured and about 60 percent of them work,” Watson said. “We must do better by serving the under-served.”

Speaking to members of LULAC and the community on Monday, Sen. Watson outlined why he and other supporters believe Prop 1 should pass.

“The estimates are that a medical school and affiliated activity will create 15,000 permanent jobs and around $2 billion a year in economic prosperity,” Sen. Watson said.

Prop 1 would raise the Central Health District's tax rate from 7.89 cents per $100 of assessed value to 12.9 cents. That means the average Travis County homeowner would pay an additional $107.40 in 2014.

Supporters say the property tax increase will help establish a local medical school, a teaching hospital and other health-related projects. They've raised more than $293,000 to get their message out.

Roger Falk is with Travis County Taxpayers Union, which is against Prop 1. His organization raised over $2,300 to tell the public why the tax increase isn't needed.

“We're the David versus Goliath here,” Falk said. “The public is being misled. This tax increase does not buy a hospital. It does not buy a medical school. It's just a tax grab by Central Health to increase their already $125 million annual budget that is supplemented by hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funding that comes to Travis County.”

Falk says they'll use what little funds they have to try and get their position out before Election Day.

Early voting on the November ballot starts Monday Oct. 22.

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