AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s James Quintero, Director of the Center for Local Governance, issued the following statement on the news of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’s announcement that new and updated local debt information is posted to the agency’s online resource, Debt-at-a-Glance. The updated information lists local debt profiles for 1,215 cities, 1,026 school districts, 100 counties, and 50 community colleges:
“Local government debt in Texas has reached alarming levels, and the problem only seems to be getting worse. In the past decade, local debt outstanding (principal only) has nearly doubled, growing from $110.1 billion in 2004 to $200.2 billion in 2013. That rate of growth is not good for the economy, the taxpayer, or the state’s financial future. If we don’t begin taking steps to put reasonable restrictions on the issuance of local debt, then the State could well be headed for troubled waters.
“As with most matters of public policy, the first step to addressing the problem is to educate the public on the scope of the challenge it faces. That’s why today’s announcement by the Texas Comptroller on her office’s efforts to update and educate the public using the Debt-at-a-Glance tool is so heartening. This resource is an excellent taxpayer education tool that will help inform the public on the huge local debt challenge confronting Texans.
“The release of this information solidifies Texas’ position as a national leader in providing fiscal transparency and educating its citizens on matters of public finance. Taxpayer education tools of this caliber simply don’t exist in many other states, and Texans are fortunate to have this quality information made available to them.”
James Quintero is Director of the Center for Local Governance at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. As a Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for Fiscal Policy, Quintero concentrated on restricting the growth of taxation, appropriations reform, increasing governmental transparency, and instituting expenditure limits. Quintero holds an MPA with an emphasis on Public Finance from Texas State University.