Voters back Proposition 1 in Travis County

Updated: 8 a.m., CST Nov. 7

According to unofficial results, voters passed Proposition 1 by 54.67 percent to 45.33 percent.

Travis County reported 186,128 votes in favor and 154,308 opposed.

Updated: 11:45 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, Proposition 1 is passing 54.36 percent to 45.64 percent.

Travis County is reporting 176,755 votes in favor, and 148,375 votes opposed to the proposition.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-District 14, said he was proud of the results and pleased that Travis County voters invested in their futures and their families' futures.

Clarke Heidrick, Austin Chamber of Commerce chairman and Central Health board member, said he was delighted that Proposition 1 was headed toward passage.

"I am excited for the prospect of a medical school and teaching hospital," he said. "I am excited for the additions to mental health care capacity, and I am thankful to Sen. Watson for his leadership."

Updated: 10:20 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, Proposition 1 is passing 54.20 percent to 45.80 percent.

Travis County is reporting 159,673 votes in favor, and 134,941 votes opposed to the proposition.

Updated: 10 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, Proposition 1 is passing 53.85 percent to 46.15 percent.

Travis County is reporting 141,935 votes in favor, and 121,640 votes opposed to the proposition.

Updated: 9:45 p.m. CST

According to unoffical results, Proposition 1 is passing 53.83 percent to 46.17 percent.

Travis County is reporting that 132,620 votes were cast in favor of the proposition and 113,727 were cast in opposition.

Updated: 9:36 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, Proposition 1 is passing 53.73 percent to 46.27 percent, with 247 of 247 precincts reporting.

Travis County is reporting that 122,728 votes were cast in favor of Prop. 1 and 105,689 were cast opposing it.

Updated: 9:10 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, supporters of Proposition 1 are outnumbering opponents by 53.68 percent to 46.32 percent, with 247 of 247 precincts reporting.

Travis County reported that Prop. 1 received 114,780 voters in favor and 99,034 against.

Don Zimmerman of the Travis County Taxpayers Union PAC addressed reporters at Hickory Grill at 9 p.m. Based on early voting totals, he said that Prop. 1 would likely pass.

"I am disappointed that we were unable to raise enough money to get our message out. I feel the voters were misled by a slick campaign," he said.

He said legal action questioning Prop. 1's ballot language was still pending and that those opposing the proposition plan to file additional affadavits in court soon.

Posted: 7:13 p.m. CST

According to unofficial results, early voters supported Proposition 1 by 53.78 percent to 46.22 percent.

Travis County reported that 208,787 ballots were cast as part of early voting for Proposition 1.

The proposition would increase Central Health's property tax rate by 5 cents, to 12.9 cents per $100 of property valuation from 7.8946 cents.

According to the ballot, the funds will be used for improving health care in Travis County, including: support for a new medical school; a site for a new teaching hospital; trauma services; specialty medicine such as cancer care; communitywide health clinics; training for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals; primary care; behavioral and mental health care; prevention and wellness programs; and/or obtaining federal matching funds for services.

The increase would represent a roughly 63 percent increase in property taxes and would raise about $54 million for Central Health. If approved, a taxpayer with an average homestead assessed at $214,567 would see an annual tax increase of about $107, or less than $9 per month.

The leaders and organizations endorsing Proposition 1 include: State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-District 14; the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; the Real Estate Council of Austin; Texas Exes; the Downtown Austin Alliance; Planned Parenthood; several Democratic groups; Carol Keeton Strayhorn; Keep Austin Healthy PAC; the Austin American-Statesman; and the Austin Chronicle.

Supporters said the proposition will create 15,000 permanent jobs and add $2 billion in annual economic activity, and will address a projected doctor shortage since most doctors practice in the city in which they trained, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters also say the tax increase would improve health care options in Austin so patients would not have to leave the city for treatment.

Leaders and organizations opposing Proposition 1 include: St. David's Healthcare, Travis County Taxpayers Union PAC, Texans for Accountable Government PAC, former mayoral candidate Clay Dafoe and former City Council candidates Dr. Laura Pressley and Shaun Ireland.

Opponents take issue with the percentage of increase in the property tax and residents' ability to pay the extra taxes. They have questioned how a medical school fits into Central Health's stated mission, which is to purchase health care services for eligible residents who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Opponents point to a report authored by a University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio professor that claims that the number of doctors is growing twice as fast as the general population.

St. David's Healthcare President/CEO David Huffstutler has said that the hospital group supports a medical school in Austin but that Proposition 1 is not the appropriate way to fund it.

Two key components of the increase are getting the most out of a federal waiver program and supporting a future medical school and teaching hospital.

Central Health President/CEO Patricia Young Brown said that as part of the 1115 Medicaid Transformation Waiver, each dollar that is locally collected translates into $2.46 of purchasing power due to a federal matching program.

The $54 million would allow Central Health to draw down $76 million, or about $516 million over the remaining four years of the waiver, she said.

The waiver is intended to encourage the creation of new projects to improve how health care is delivered locally while still reimbursing hospitals for treating low-income patients.

Central Health intends to participate in the waiver regardless of the outcome of the vote, but it will not be able to take full advantage of the waiver without the additional funds, Central Health staff said.

Central Health would dedicate a portion of the tax increase to support the creation of a new medical school and teaching hospital.

Central Health officials have said that money from the federal waiver cannot go toward construction of a new school, but would likely fund services there.

Seton Healthcare Family plans to spend $250 million to build a new teaching hospital to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge in the years ahead.