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Politics

Better Know Your Ballot: Proposition 2's Veteran Spousal Benefit Fix

CampSwiftGuard.jpg
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT
A member of the Texas National Guard during then-Gov. Perry's visit to Camp Swift in July of 2014.

We're just over a month away from Election Day in Texas and, while it's an election not everyone even knows is coming up, there are seven statewide constitutional amendments are on the ballot. Of those seven, Proposition 2 seeks to retroactively amend a state law allowing veterans’ spouses to collect benefits.

In 2009, the legislature passed a bill that exempted 100 percent of disabled veterans from paying property taxes. In 2011, voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed a surviving spouse the same benefit, as long as they didn't remarry. Soon after, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that only spouses who were widowed after the 2009 law went into effect could have the benefit transfer to them.

“This proposition basically will rectify that, in that it'll make retroactively surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans receive equitable property tax relief,” says Elliot Sprehe, a public affairs officer for the Texas Veterans Commission.

The new constitutional proposition had almost unanimous support in the legislature. If approved by voters, it will cost the state about $1.2 million in 2017, its first year of implementation. That would rise to about $6.5 million a year after that.

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