Historically, turnout in Texas’ political primaries has languished in the single-digits. The 2014 cycle was no different, even with hotly contested Republican primary races. Less than eight percent of registered voters weighed in across our state’s largest counties.
Sadly, only a small minority participated in May’s local elections.
In total, approximately 84% of the $6.2 billion in local education debt was approved by voters via ballot propositions. Education debt remains the largest debt sector in Texas. In some elections such as Frisco ISD, turnout was a bit higher than expected, at around 9.7%!
Remember, regardless of who votes, everyone pays!
This electoral apathy is becoming increasingly expensive. Unlike certain states like California, the Texas model of governance relies heavily on local taxing, spending and borrowing to finance government-provided services. To the surprise of many, the local tax and debt burdens imposed on Texans are rapidly growing.
Defenders of big government wrongly attribute this phenomenon to population growth, even though compelling empirical data invalidates this claim.
An analysis conducted by the State Comptroller in 2012 found that, since 1992, property tax levies from public school districts grew 34% faster than population growth and inflation. City levies; 57% faster. Counties; 88% faster. Between 2001 and 2011, total local government debt grew 130% faster.
Texas already has the second-highest, local debt per capita, in the nation. And while portions of some debt propositions can be justified, the size, scope and sheer number are disturbing.
With “environmental sustainability” en vogue, few seem concerned about our unsustainable debt trends.
Fortunately, some activists are making a difference. As we previously reported, the Garland ISD board quickly backed away from a $500 million bond this spring, after Lawrence Jones, teachers and other concerned citizens voiced their frustration with administration over personnel mismanagement and fiscal malfeasance.
A few credible, empowered voices can make a tangible difference.
Below is a list of all local education debt propositions that appeared on the May, 2014 ballot. Unofficial numbers show that over 90-93% of registered voters stayed home. As we noted, approximately 84% of the $6.2 billion of debt passed.
To learn more about local debt in your area, visit Tell The Truth Texas. For a complete copy of the Comptroller’s comprehensive debt reports released in 2012, visit www.texastransparency.org. The website also serves as a repository of information that utilizes a searchable database interface that taxpayers can use to retrieve a variety of publicly available information.
*Propositions that passed are italicized
*Propositions that failed are in bold
(There are several propositions where the results were not yet available as of May 12th, according to TASBO.)
Source: Texas Association of School Business Officials
|School District||Referendum #||Amount|
|Centerville ISD (Leon County)||1||$17,000,000|
|Chapel Hill ISD (Smith County)||1||$21,000,000|
|Cross Roads ISD||1||$4,500,000|
|Dodd City ISD||1||$3,420,000|
|Dripping Springs ISD||1||$92,410,000|
|East Bernard ISD||1||$24,900,000|
|Falls City ISD||1||$39,500,000|
|Jim Hogg County ISD||1||$14,000,000|
|Karnes City ISD||1||$45,000,000|
|La Porte ISD||1||$260,000,000|
|Marble Falls ISD||1||$6,550,000|
|Mount Vernon ISD||1||$14,000,000|
|New Diana ISD||1||$15,000,000|
|North Hopkins ISD||1||$5,000,000|
|North Zulch ISD||1||$1,900,000|
|North Zulch ISD||2||$400,000|
|Northside ISD (Bexar County)||1||$648,340,000|
|Pleasant Grove ISD||1||$16,600,000|
|Round Rock ISD||1||$234,200,000|
|Round Rock ISD||2||$25,900,000|
|Round Rock ISD||3||$38,900,000|
|White Oak ISD||1||$25,200,000|
|Wichita Falls ISD||1||$125,000,000|