The Bond Review Board’s newly released dataset reveals that local governments continue to borrow heavily. According to the agency, debt owed by cities, counties, school districts, and special districts grew to a total of $375.7 billion in fiscal year 2020, an increase of almost $50 billion since 2016. On a per capita basis, local governments owe more than $12,500 per Texan.

“Local governments are addicted to debt. Worse, the borrowing binge continues in spite of widespread economic misery, business closures, and joblessness,” says TPPF’s James Quintero. “State lawmakers must do more to wean local governments from their debt dependency. Legislative reforms should focus on: maximizing public participation by requiring bond elections to be held in November, encouraging stakeholder engagement via the elimination of certificates of obligation, and promoting efficiency through the use of third-party audits. Now is the time for big, bold reforms.”