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House Speaker stops in Abilene to support November vote on state water plan

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Oct 25 2013 03:48:09 PM CDT
Joe Straus in Abilene
ABILENE, Texas -

In less than two weeks, Texans will vote whether to approve or deny a $2 billion transfer from the Rainy Day Fund to finance an ambitious statewide water project.

Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald and community members came together at city hall Friday to support House Speaker Joe Strauss – who is advocating for Proposition 6. Strauss reminded voters the Rainy Day Fund is currently stands at a record level of about $8 billion dollars and funding the water project would not force taxes to increase.

“The U.S. Drought Monitor recently said that a majority of West-Central Texas is in severe drought,” Strauss said. “In fact, pockets of this area are in a drought that's designated as extreme or even exceptional.”

If voters do not approve funding for the water plan, Strauss said the effects could be devastating.

“Statewide - agriculture and other economic losses from this drought exceed $11 billion,” Strauss said. “In the last few months, I've heard stories about out-of-state companies looking to move their operations to Texas, but because of the drought and water restrictions that they face in coming here, they had to look to moving to other states.”

According to Water Texas PAC statistics, not funding the plan could mean more than $116 billion in estimated economic losses and the loss of more than 1.1 million jobs by year 2060. By that same year, the statistics indicate the state’s population is expected to double as water supplies are expected to decrease by 10 percent.

The $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund would go toward projects such as conservation efforts and pipeline and reservoir construction.

Strauss said the money would be used to finance water projects for the next 50 years.