Sunday, May 17, 2015
Want More Local Debt Transparency? Senator Bettencourt Delivers with SB 1041
As individual activists and collectively as communities in varying school districts across the state of Texas, I think it's safe to say we're all concerned about mounting local debt, especially debt for our school districts through bonds that are issued. We've all experienced the frustrations that come with those hidden elections, when precinct numbers are changed and mobile voting is introduced, ensuring a low voter turnout to those who would normally be against the bond.
I'm a resident of the Cy-Fair School District and they passed a $1.2 Billion Bond Referendum last May that I worked against that passed with flying colors. They employed the same tactics that other school districts and taxing authorities use to get their bonds pushed through on an unsuspecting public. These tactics are not new, and as long as they keep being successful, they won't ever stop.
I know how hard I've personally worked alongside other volunteers and activists to defeat certain bond measures and to defeat increased taxes. Not because I hate children or don't want to see children succeed, but because as a taxpayer I have to wonder, when is enough, 'enough'?
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. One of the ways we can try to rein in local debt is through the Texas state legislature. The representatives we send to Austin, (or even you) can write and introduce bills to make changes to current laws to ensure the changes that we want on how bond measures are presented on the ballot get made.
Enter SB 1041, introduced by Senator Paul Bettencourt. Here's a little about the bill from Senator Bettencourt, "Taxpayers have a right to know how much debt their local government has taken out and what the cost is to taxpayers. For the first time, taxpayers will get to directly see how much they should expect to pay when they vote for bonds - right on the ballot itself.
My bill, SB 1041, just passed the Senate 26-5 and would require on any ballot to approve property tax backed debt, information about their local government debt and the amount of taxes the average homeowner would pay to pay off their local government debt. This information is required for ALL of the property tax backed debt the local government currently has, and the debt they are asking voters to approve."
Wow! Right on the ballot?!? Right on, Senator Bettencourt!