During the month of December there’s no shortage of celebrations, religious and secular. But while taxpayers are busy with the merry-making, local governments are festooning the books with new debt. This is the governing equivalent of the Grinch sneaking in to steal Cindy Lou’s presents while Whoville sleeps.

Indeed, late-winter is when local governments start issuing Certificates of Obligation. Think of it as last-minute Christmas shopping, for yourself, on someone else’s credit card.

For example, the City of San Antonio didn’t ask voters for $52 million to buy themselves a fancy building. No, they issued COs  debt the voters don’t get to review – to buy it.

That puts San Antonio on the naughty list. But they aren’t alone. And it’s not just the “blue” cities that aren’t playing nice with the taxpayers.

My EmpowerTexans.com colleagues noted that the City of Midland has more “certificate of obligation” debt than they do debt authorized by the voters!

And it’s among the reasons why Texas has the second highest debt-per-person in the nation. And the sixth-highest property taxes.

Until the Lone Star State makes it harder for the political subdivisions to dig deeper into debt, taxpayers will find themselves with less and less about which to be cheerful.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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