Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#TXLEGE: Senate likely to pass meaningful local debt transparency

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

[Note: The committee hearing can be viewed here; our testimony is somewhere between the half hour and forty five minute mark.]

Earlier this afternoon, we testified in favor of SB 462 in front of the Senate Property tax committee: Relating to ballot propositions authorizing certain political subdivisions to issue debt obligations.

SB 462 would require local governments to disclose, on the ballot, the size of the tax increases required to pay back proposed bond packages.  It does a number of other worthwhile things.  But the major part is the disclosure of the size of the tax increase.

We've been on this issue for a long time.  This was one of the original issues that interested us in state level activism four sessions ago.  It was also on this issue where we learned the truth about how the Capitol all too frequently works.  The only thing that's changed in that time is the amount owed.

We also testified that, for down ballot campaigns in high turnout elections, information on the ballot is key.  Like it or not, 30% of voters in those type of situations are clueless.  Debt transparency, on the ballot, is the last line of defense for voter education.

We would like to correct one error: During our testimony, we stated that local government debt had grown by $50 billion during the time we've been following this issue.  It's actually $32 Billion.  We regret the error.  That being said, we got the direction right.

During the hearing, Chuy Hinojosa announced that we was supporting Campbell's bill.  With Hinojosa's support, that likely means this bill has the votes to pass.  The only opposition came from taxpayer funded lobbyists.

Bottom Line: This needs to get done this session....

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