Wednesday, April 30, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Comptroller Susan Combs, Early Voting, and the Local Debt Bomb

"The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Proverbs 22:7

Early voting is underway in 79 separate municipal/school district bond elections, totaling $6.6 BILLION, across Texas.  While individual readers need to do their own due diligence on their own ISD and municipality, Cahnman's Musings spoke with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs about the big picture for local government debt. We've included the conversation in full:

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  • Combs put the info for her agency on her Fourth day in office.
  • Comptroller's Local Debt website:
    • Readers can find information for individual bonds and taxing entities.
  • Texas has the second highest local government debt per capita in the country.
    • School Districts = 54%
    • Average per student debt across Texas = $13,000
  • School Construction: Extremely difficult to find the info.
    • October 17th - Sent e-mail open records request to every school district in Texas
      • Some took up to 90 days to respond.
      • Texas law requires a response within 10 days.
    • Huge variation in cost per square foot and cost per student.
      • San Antonio was a particularly bad offender.
  • Debt Watch: Will show you the pattern.
    • Unfortunately, the comptroller has limited resources, so local citizens need to do a lot of the legwork.
  • HB/SB 14 (2013): Clearly not that had to put the data out, since the Comptroller has built the capability
    • Jim Pitts and Tommy Williams worked had on it during the 83rd, but it was killed by others.
      • Note: This website has been very critical of both Pitts and Williams, but they deserve credit for their work on this issue.
  • To fight debt: Folks "just need to talk about it more."
    • Speak to your local mayor and city council and school board member.
    • The Houston Chronicle didn't know the date of an upcoming bond election.
  • Capital Appreciation Bonds: "They scare me."
    • Sen. Hinojosa concerned.
    • Ticking time bomb
  • "Tell the truth, in words of one syllable...tell voters the truth."
  • Governments don't like to tell people what they need to know.

1 comment:

  1. Good info here! Someone really needs to do investigative research on the shadowy PACs that pay for all that expensive promotional material hitting our mailboxes. I think we should follow the money- WHO will profit abundantly from all of this government spending, hmmm?