Texas Voters Approve Billions in New Debt

On Tuesday, voters approved an overwhelming majority of the $9 billion-plus in new debt pitched by cities, counties, school districts, and special districts, according to the Texas Comptroller’s Bond Election Roundup website. Here’s how the top 10 largest new debt proposals fared and a few observations to boot.

Source: Texas Comptroller’s Bond Election Roundup

While some of the results have yet to be finalized, it appears that voters approved 9 out of the 10 largest bond propositions up for consideration. Only Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD’s bond failed.

Interestingly, the top 10 largest bonds this cycle represented more than half of all the proposed local debt, i.e. $5.6 billion on the list, compared to the $9.3 billion total.

What’s more, Texas’ biggest bonds were mostly pitched by school districts. In fact, ISDs put seven out of the 10 largest bond propositions before voters. And almost every one included a healthy dose of new spending for things that, in the past, were paid for out of the operating budget, like busses, technology, and maintenance.

While this election cycle appears to have been a wipeout for fiscal conservatives, the next election may hold slightly more promise as new reforms come into play, like Senate Bill 30, a law requiring school districts to begin separating out their bond propositions into different categories of expense. Either way, there’s still much more work to be done at the statehouse to control the size and growth of local debt.