Voters approve tax increase for Dallas schools

Voters on Tuesday approved an additional 13 cents on the maintenance and operations tax rate in Dallas ISD, placing it at $1.17 – the maximum allowed in Texas.

The increase will lead to an additional $126 million paid out to the district over the next several years, which officials claim will be used for employee raises, to bolster the rainy day fund, and build specialty schools and specialty school programs. Specifically, the district is planning on increasing the budget for teacher and principal salaries from $27.8 million to $30.2 million in the next four years.

Sixty percent of the voters, or 147,484, voted in favor of the property tax increase, while forty percent, or 98,876, voted against it.

The extra income will be critical for DISD in the coming years, as the district is now labeled a “property rich” district and will be paying into the state’s recapture program – or Robin Hood, as it’s known – for the first time in its history.

To put the tax on homeowners in perspective, single-family homes at an average value of $263, 287 will pay approximately $275 more a year, according to the district. Or, $0.65 cents per day or $20 a month.

Voters also voted in favor of three other DISD propositions Tuesday: $75,000,000 for the purchase of new school buses, as well as bus maintenance and operating facilities; $75,000,000 in bonds refunding outstanding tax notes; and authorization of the district’s Board of Trustees to purchase attendance credits from the state.

Cruz holds off O’Rourke

Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz held on to defeat Representative Beto O’Rourke in one of the closest state senate races in more than a decade Tuesday.

Networks began calling Cruz’s victory at around 9:30 p.m. CST, with the final tally showing Cruz with just over 4 million votes by 11 p.m. O’Rourke finished with 47.8 percent of the vote, or 3,733,412.

This will be Cruz’s second term in the Senate.

“This was an election about hope and about the future of Texas,” Cruz said in his victory speech. “The people of Texas rendered a verdict that we want a future with more jobs and more security and more freedom.”

O’Rourke dominated in the major Texas counties; in Dallas County, O’Rourke tallied 66 percent of the vote, or 439,424, to Cruz’s 221,319. He tripled Cruz’s output in his hometown of El Paso County, and grabbed 57 percent of the more than 1 million votes coming out of Harris County.

But Cruz nearly ran the table in the smaller, rural counties of Texas, playing to the staunch republican base that makes up the majority of the state.

O’Rourke delivered an emotional concession speech to supporters in his hometown of El Paso.

“It is the greatness to which we aspire and the work we are willing to put into it to achieve it by which we will be known going forward,” he said. “This campaign holds a very special place in the history of this country. Every day going forward. You have made that possible.”

Allred upsets Sessions

In a huge win for Texas democrats, former NFL player and democrat Colin Allred defeated longtime GOP representative Pete Sessions Tuesday in the state’s 32nd District.

Allred received 52.2 percent of the votes, or 132,877. Sessions received 45.9 percent, or 116,941.

Sessions has been in Congress since 1997, but Allred, a new face, focused his campaign on universal healthcare coverage, overhauling the country’s immigration policy, and improving education.

His strategy played well in the 32nd, which includes areas of North Dallas such as Highland Park, Richardson, and Garland. The district voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by two points in 2016.

Sessions did not face a democratic opponent last election.

At his victory party in Dallas, Allred said his win is “a message for Washington.”

“This community is looking for change,” he said. “They want new ideas. They want a fresh approach and that’s what I want to give them.”

In his concession speech, Sessions wished Allred luck and said his service was “never a job,” but something he loved to do.

“I wish Colin Allred congratulations, and hope he will continue a legacy of representation that delivers growth, opportunity, and a stronger future for North Texas,” Sessions said.

Johnson overtakes Huffines 

Democrat Nathan Johnson defeated incumbent republican senator Don Huffines on Tuesday in the race for the 16th District. Huffines had represented the district since 2015.

“I pledged to work with Mr. Johnson on a smooth transition to best serve the people of Senate District 16, and that’s a commitment I will honor,” Huffines said in his concession speech. “Although my service in the Texas Senate will soon come to an end, I will keep working for common sense conservative solutions that Texans deserve.”

District 16 includes Highland Park, University Park, Carrollton, Addison, and other parts of North Dallas.

Johnson received 54 percent of the votes, or 158,216. Huffines pulled 46 percent, or 134,412.

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