Austin’s controversial light rail program, approved by voters in 2020, could be null and void due to an allegedly unconstitutional financing proposal.

According to press reports, during a court hearing, proponents of the transit scheme found themselves unable to defend the project’s ability to borrow money. Absent this authority, it is unlikely to continue.

At issue is the convoluted structure of the measure presented to voters in 2020. Designed to evade state limits on debt and borrowing (which seemed like a money laundering arrangement), the measure created a so-called “governmental corporation” called the Austin Transit Partnership. According to the 2020 proposal, the Austin Transit Partnership was supposed to be funded by a one-time increase to the city’s maintenance and operations property tax.

However, proponents of the project lowballed the cost estimate. Combined with Biden’s inflation, this has led to a situation where the Austin Transit Partnership now needs to borrow substantial sums.

Unfortunately for proponents, state law prohibits using maintenance and operations property tax dollars to pay debt for so-called ‘governmental corporations.’ While a second component of the property tax—interest and sinking—could be used to pay debt, that’s not what was approved in 2020.

Local attorney Adam Loewy subsequently pronounced the project dead:


“The only way this eventually happens is if Austin does a new election with a traditional bond. The problem? Austin isn’t exactly rolling in cash now and credit markets are not great. Plus, doubtful voters will go for a big project after this boondoggle so far,” added Loewy.

The district court in Austin is expected to rule in the coming weeks. Regardless of the ruling, appeals are likewise expected.

Adam Cahn

Adam is a longtime conservative activist and an avid UT and Yankees fan.