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Reviewing Austins Prop A “Project Connect”

Austin’s vote on “Project Connect” – Prop A – to build a light rail was critical because it set the tone for what the future of Austin is going to be. Many people see Austin being another very big city, possibly comparable (in the future) to places like New York, Silicon Valley, etc. Many people also see Austin as being a home for sustainability in the future and this decision was a big factor in that. Austin voters had to decide if project connect (prop a supported) went through, which it recently did, it would cost billions of dollars. It is a mass transit plan that would add light rails, downtown transit tunnels, rapid bus routes, and more. Additionally, estimates stated that it would likely add up to 20% to the city portion of taxes and a permanent tax increase. 

The growth of the tech sector and Austin generally is extremely impressive. Tesla, Facebook, Amazon, and more major companies have started to establish themselves within Austin. With this, there needs to come a change in attitude. Thus far, Austin has not created restrictive measures on vehicles because it was not always practical and people felt that. As of right now, there are simply too many cars and too many people who rely on having a car in the city. There is also the past stigma that comes with riding public transportation in some areas of the county, implying classism within communities. The idea remains at times that those who tend to take public transportation are those who simply cannot afford to have their own mode of transportation. This is far from the truth and is a nasty stereotype. As someone who grew up in New York City, even the wealthiest families I know on the Upper East Side of Manhattan tend to not own cars due to a variety of reasons. Some argue for the price, others for the inconveniences, and some for sustainability reasons. But over time, from bike paths to ride sharing though, the idea of leaving the car has become more prevalent. To be a booming and bustling city, many would argue that a good public transit system is required so that the city won’t shut down. Austin has also started to feel the impacts of the transit and traffic issues that are coming with the overflow of people. This is a greater push to enforce something like project connect so that more people can get places in a more efficient manner. 

The lines that they want to add with project connect would benefit a lot of different groups of people, including people who commute to work in downtown Austin, people who want/need to get to the airport, the hospital, and even to the ut campus and West Mall area. This bill would not only benefit one group of people but a multitude of people. This is good because I believe we currently live in a world where people are extremely self-interested and it is harder for someone to think about others if there is no added benefit for themselves. Cynical as it may be, the more people that are being “advantaged”, the more likely it is to get support. 

Sometimes, voters aren’t willing to increase their taxes for the “greater good” of the community and their own self-interest and I believe this is because the numbers don’t seem fathomable to the average person. 7.1 billion dollars seems like a ridiculous and unreasonable amount of money. It is difficult to understand where that money is coming from. To break this down: according to my research, somewhere between 40-45% of the money will be coming from the federal government. A small percentage will be through capital metros revenue and the rest will be from property taxpayers, aka the people. This means that anyone who owns property in Austin will have to pay more on top of it, which people who don’t like or understand. I believe a lot of this goes back into propaganda and misinformation from political parties. If voters and property owners actually understood that they would benefit from this (ie. They would make a return on the “investment” in the future, because their property would be worth more later on), I think there would be less controversy and less debate. However, because no one really educates voters on what they are actually investing in and why it is important to do so, they are misled by any other politicized ideas that focus on the seemingly outrageous dollar amount. Education and miseducation are extremely powerful tools, and politicians and government officials are extremely aware of this when speaking to the average voter and property owner. Also when you bring up politicized issues such as climate change, even though they should not be politicized they are, this is extremely harmful because then it becomes an issue about party rather than what is for the good of society as a whole and what future generations need to sustain the world we live in. As far as this section of Prop A goes, I believe it would be extremely helpful for many people in and around Austin. Please remember that these are just my opinions and research. Please remember to do your own research before formulating an opinion and to always be kind to others! Thank you.

Hi all! My name is Kirsten Corrigan (she/her), and I am so excited to be a part of Her Campus! I'm a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin. My hometown is Manhattan, NY. I'm a government/political science major and I plan on going to law school after undergrad. A few things about me; I'm an Aquarius, a huge movie buff, I play guitar, I enjoy painting (although I'm not great at it), and I have an addiction to coffee. I have a passion for writing and politics. I hope you enjoy reading my work!
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