There are no statewide offices on the ballot in Texas this November, but there are 10 state constitutional amendments. The editorial boards of the state’s five largest newspapers gave unanimous endorsements to five of the constitutional amendments and were divided on the remaining amendments. According to Statista, the state-based newspapers with the largest circulation in 2016 were (1) The Dallas Morning News, (2) Houston Chronicle, (3) San Antonio Express-News, (4) Forth Worth Star-Telegram, and (5) Austin American-Statesman.
The five constitutionals that received unanimous support from the five-largest newspapers were Propositions 2, 6, 7, 8, and 10. On Propositions 3 and 5, one newspaper editorial board opposed the measure. On Proposition 1, two newspaper editorial boards opposed the measure. Proposition 4 was the one measure on this year’s ballot to receive an endorsement from just one—Fort Worth Star-Telegram—of the five-largest newspapers. The other four newspapers—The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, and Austin American-Statesman—each opposed Proposition 4.
Proposition 4 would add an amendment to prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals to the Texas Constitution, which requires a two-thirds legislative vote and a statewide referendum to amend. The current requirement to enact an income tax is a simple majority legislative vote and a statewide referendum. In other words, one of the practical effects of Proposition 4 is increasing the legislative vote requirement to enact an income tax.
The Texas State Legislature placed Proposition 4 on the ballot in one of the narrowest votes of the past 25 years. In Texas, a two-thirds vote is required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which is equal to 100 votes in the state House and 21 votes in the state Senate, assuming no vacancies. The constitutional amendment received 100 in the state House and 22 votes in the state Senate. Most legislative Democrats (65 percent) opposed Proposition 4. Legislative Republicans, along with 29 percent of legislative Democrats, supported the constitutional amendment.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board wrote, “The bar to a major new tax should be high.” The Austin American-Statesman and Houston Chronicle opposed the measure’s wording, contending that the wording could lead to legal challenges against the state’s business franchise tax. The Dallas Morning News and San Antonio Express-News both described the amendment as unnecessary.
Below is an image of the stances that Texas’ largest newspapers have taken on this year’s constitutional amendments, along with other editorials that Ballotpedia has identified.