Despite living in the Information Age, Texans don’t have a lot of data and facts on local spending and debt. Think about the last time you went to the ballot box to vote-did you know how much that new park or library was going to cost? Or how much debt has already been issued? Or what all that new debt will mean for your property taxes?
Chances are none of that information was available. And that’s a problem.
Without this information, voters across the state have unknowingly contributed to massive local debt problem. In the last decade, local debt increased to over $7,500 per Texan, making Texas’ local debt per person the second highest in the nation, behind only New York according to the Comptroller.
Part of solution to reversing this trend is more transparency. Cue House Bill 14.
Among other things, HB 14 will require political subdivisions with the authority to levy taxes or issue debt to inform voters of current debts and future obligations including principal and interest; the purpose of a bond; the estimated amount of interest on the bond; and the date of maturity. In other words, all the basic financial information that one should have before borrowing large sums of money.
The importance of educating and informing voters cannot be understated. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” -Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Richard Price (1789)