What is Prop A?
Proposition A, or Project Connect, is a newly passed ballot measure in November 2020 that has great intentions but has been subject to plenty of scrutinies by business owners in Austin, TX.
Prop A aims to build and implement a high capacity transit system within the city, helping to lessen traffic congestion and promote more efficient travel.
According to a spokesperson from Transit Now, the campaign that helped pass Prop A released a statement saying that this measure will:
“manage traffic, fight climate change, get essential workers to get to their jobs, and build and preserve affordable housing. Most Austinites will pay less than 80 cents a day for it”
However, even though “less than 80 cents a day” is just literal pennies on the dollar, it’s 80 cents on the dollar and that amount would be pulled from the pockets of business owners by raising property taxes 25% per year to pay for the more than $7b project.
The property tax revenue would be, according to austintexas.gov:
“directed to a new, independent government organization called the Austin Transit Partnership. This organization would oversee, finance, and implement Project Connect.”
Some business owners are up in arms with this not just because of the property tax increase, but it’s going to add an even more significant impact because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The widespread closure of business throughout 2020 has already forced business owners to pinch pennies in order to stay open and keep the lights on. Having to pay more might be the nail in the coffin for some.
But on the contrary, how change is created now may benefit how the city runs in the future, which may be more efficient than how things currently are.
In short, the nature of propositions is that there are always pros and cons. Prop A is no exception.
It’s a fine balancing act when deciding what the best decision is for the current state of affairs, and also looking ahead to tomorrow.
Since Prop A has passed, it’s clear that more people are in favor of it than not. It’s the change that Austinites wanted, and it’s here to stay. But what will be the impact? We’ll have to wait and see.
Pros of Prop A
Austin, TX is notorious for its consistently low ratings when it comes to traffic congestion. In fact, this city’s traffic it’s one of the worst in the United States.
Prop A seeks to improve this negative title with the implementation of Project Connect, helping to free up the roads while creating a more streamlined system of getting around.
In the ever-present battle with carbon emissions, this proposition seems like a literal breath of fresh air. It would not only help Austinites get around easier, but it would ease the toll on the earth itself.
Austin, TX’s population is set to explode to the tune of 4.5 million people by 2040. Currently, in 2020, it’s just less than 1 million people. Seeing as the traffic is bad enough, the numbers speak for themselves on why a more advanced form of transportation is desperately needed.
Prop A also will be helping to create thousands of new jobs, which will inject the economy with billions of dollars in the long term.
While one of the most significant impacts that Prop A aims to improve is the efficiency of how people get around, there is an even greater benefit for riders who are transit-dependent.
Those members of the community who are of lower-income and perhaps cannot afford automobiles, and those who are disabled will have greater opportunities and access to travel to get to where they need to go.
Reducing the dependency of using a car, helping to possibly remove the need for a car altogether, and use more eco-friendly modes of transportation such as the transit is a strong consideration.
Cons of Prop A
There has been an outcry that the implementation of Prop A isn’t worth it because it would only serve a small percentage of riders and would be a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.
It’s been said that according to statesman.com:
“In Austin, as Capital Metro ridership figures have indicated, the percentage use of public transit has been falling and is below the national average.
The national average hovers around the 5% range.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an even far less number of people that are using transit, let alone transportation altogether. When that number will increase again is anyone’s guess, so for now it’s unknown.
Since the money would be coming from property owners in the form of property tax increases, many businesses, both old and new, would face additional stress in having to pay their own bills as well as helping to fund the new transportation system.
There are still buses that are driving around town, and that has been an efficient way for Austinites for decades. Plus, there are no extra taxes or increases in funding needed.
Another negative impact that this ballot measure may serve is how much disruption, congestion, and pollution there will be getting this transit system up to speed.
As we see that a large majority of individuals use their own automobiles to get around, this extra work in setting up the new system may cause even more congestion and headaches.
Proposition A has passed, which shows us that more people desire this change than not.
Austinites have shown an interest in wanting to see how Project Connect unfolds by changing the status quo, but only in due time will we be able to see how the implementation of Project Connect plays out and its impacts, both positive and negative.