AUSTIN (KXAN) - A day after voters passed the Central Health Proposition 1, which means a property tax increase, Travis County TaxPayers Union has filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the votes from being officially certified.
It asks that the proposition not be implemented during the duration of the lawsuit. A hearing in the case is set for Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.
The issue, according to TCTU, is the language that was included on the ballot. Stephen Casey, an attorney in the case, said the voting language on the ballot did not follow state laws, but overstepped boundaries with the extra information listed in the paragraph about Propostion 1-Central Health.
"There is good existing law to support the judge issuing an injunction," said Casey. "Each provision under which the plaintiffs sued provides for injunctive relief. In addition, data publicly available from both the Texas Education Agency and a non-profit literacy group, Literacy Coalition of Central Texas , demonstrates there are significant literacy problems in Travis County.
"If that is the case, a massive change in the voting language of a ballot proposition, far beyond what is permitted by law, can have a harmful effect on the ability of the average voter to understand what is on the ballot."
Casey refers to language the District added beyond what the law permits, language that promotes the ballot proposition.
The portion printed on the ballot which is in question follows:
"...funds will be used for improved healthcare in Travis County, including support for a new medical school consistent with the mission of Central Health, a site for a new teaching hospital, trauma services, specialty medicine such as cancer care, community-wide health clinics, training for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, primary care, behavioral and mental healthcare, prevention and wellness programs, and/or to obtain federal matching funds for healthcare services."
The proposition passed on Tuesday with 55 percent for, and 45 percent against it. The vote breakdown was 186,128 people in favor of the property tax increase, with 154,308 people against it.
On Thursday, TCTU announced it will hold a grassroots public rally at the federal courthouse, 200 W. 8th St., on Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. urging the judge to block official canvassing of the election results.
UT moving forward
University of Texas President Bill Powers held a press conference on campus Wednesday to commemorate the results.
"I think for the university this is a legacy moment a milestone moment, and i want to thank everyone who made this happen," said Powers.
Approving the ad valorem tax rate of $0.129 per $100 valuation in Central Health, also known as the Travis County Healthcare District , for the 2013 tax year, a rate that exceeds the district's rollback tax rate. The proposed ad valorem tax rate exceeds the ad valorem tax rate most recently adopted by the district by $0.05 per $100 valuation;
University officials say they will aggressively continue their efforts to keep the project moving. They're hoping to break ground on the project as soon as next year and plan to welcome their first class of students after going through a three year accreditation process.
"So we will anticipate that we would like to be aggressive and start a class about 2015 or so," said Steven Leslie, UT provost.
Thursday Seaton Healthcare officials will meet at UT to discuss plans for the location of the facility.
"This proposition extends far beyond what the Texas Legislature expressly provided," said Don Zimmerman, treasurer for TCTU. "By loading up this proposition with advocacy words, voters who may have struggled to get through the ballot are unquestionably challenged. Had the District simply followed the neutrality the law requires and valued the voters' free choice above its own financial gain, this wouldn't have happened."
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