AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the policy perspective Red Ink Rising in the Lone Star State: FY 2019.

“Our new research reveals that the state of local government debt in Texas is both at an all-time high and accumulating quickly,” said Grace Watson a legislative fellow with TPPF’s Think Local Liberty Initiative. “Texans should be concerned and need to hold their elected officials accountable in addressing this problem.”

The latest data suggests that the principal debt owed by cities, counties, school districts, and special districts has grown to almost $240 billion. Adding together the unpaid principal and interest brings local debt to $365.3 billion.

“The issue with local government debt is that the vast majority of this debt is tax-supported in nature, which has important implications for homeowners and businesses who pay property taxes,” said James Quintero, who leads TPPF’s Think Local Liberty initiative. “In fiscal year 2019, local debt totaled $365.3 billion or more than $12,500 owed for every man, woman, and child in the Lone Star State.”

Key Points:

  • Local government debt has surged in recent years, pushing property taxes up and creating long-lasting challenges.
  • Texas’ local debt per capita ($8,013) ranked second among the top 10 most populous states, behind only New York ($11,209).
  • When principal and interest are accounted for, the amount of local debt owed per person soars to more than $12,500.
  • School district debt ($137.9 billion) accounts for more than one-third of all local debt. City government debt ($113.5 billion) follows closely behind.

To read the policy perspective in full, please visit: