On November 5, 2019, voters in Texas will decide a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to increase the maximum amount of bonds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) from $3 billion to $6 billion. According to the Texas House Research Organization, the state is projected to run out of bonds for CPRIT between 2020 and 2022. Between September 1, 2009, and February 21, 2019, CPRIT had issued $2.26 billion in grants.
CPRIT was created in 2009 after voters approved Proposition 15 in 2007. The ballot measure tasked CPRIT with making grants to public and private researchers, education institutions, and medical research facilities to research the causes of cancer in humans and develop cures, mitigation procedures, and prevention protocols and services. Proposition 15 allowed the Texas Public Finance Authority to authorize $3 billion in general obligation bonds, which would be used for the institute’s operation and grants. Under Proposition 15, as well as the 2019 amendment, no more than $300 million in bonds could be authorized per year.
The 2019 constitutional amendment received unanimous approval in the state Senate. In the state House, Democrats, along with 64 Republicans, voted for the amendment. Fifteen House Republicans voted against referring the amendment to the ballot. The amendment needed a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the legislature. The governor does not sign constitutional amendments, which go on the ballot for voter consideration.
The CPRIT bond increase amendment is the second certified for the 2019 ballot in Texas. The first amendment, certified on April 29, addresses the transfer of law enforcement animals to their handlers. The 2019 legislative session began on January 8, 2019, and is expected to adjourn on May 27, 2019, during which time the legislature can refer additional constitutional amendments to the ballot.