Austin-State Representative Dan Flynn (Van) today presented information in support of his Transparency Legislation HB 114 and HB 1378. This information was troubling to many in the audience, as throughout the state, when it was revealed that the total school district municipal debt is more than 112 billion dollars and over 20 school districts are indebted with over a billion dollars in debt.
Stated Rep Flynn, "Texans deserve transparency in local bond elections involving schools and other governmental bodies. Texans deserve the right to know how much debt there is and hope my legislation will help shine light on this vital issue."
Representative Flynn laying out HB114 and HB1378
Flynn's legislation which would require transparency in ensuring Texans are fully informed of the actual level of debt and its consequences as well as putting limits on Capital Appreciation Bonds. Those type of bonds are used often as a tool to help school districts but are also very susceptible to abuse. Said Flynn, "Many are concerned when they learn their ISD's are indebted in the billions of dollars. It appears the overuse of this tool could be could be an open invitation to get around current limits on spending and borrowing and there is an urgent need to reign in this type of abuse."
More worrisome, Texas has extremely high levels of local debt. Some of the highest in the nation. According to the Texas Bond Review Board local governments have almost 200 billion in local outstanding bond debt and it is worth noting that local debt makes up 83 percent of all public debt in Texas.
Debt Service as of 8/31/2014
Principal Interest* Total Debt Service
Public School Districts $67,963,542,470 $44,257,744,199 $112,221,286,668
Cities, Towns, Villages $67,802,254,274 $37,341,065,833 $105,143,320,107
Water Districts and Authorities $31,306,548,675 $17,501,923,930 $48,808,472,605
Other Special Districts and Authorities $15,918,003,391 $16,044,571,619 $31,962,575,009
Counties $14,131,821,815 $7,297,042,886 $21,428,864,700
Community and Junior Colleges $4,768,060,367 $2,478,634,576 $7,246,694,943
Health / Hospital Districts $3,437,504,772 $2,879,898,753 $6,317,403,525
Total $205,327,735,763 $127,800,881,794 $333,128,617,557
*Excludes Build America Bond subsidy
According to Representative Flynn, "To ensure voters are adequately informed about any new debt they are being asked to approve transparency of the levels of debt, payments and per capita burden need to be disclosed on a regular basis. These transparency requirements should apply to all political subdivisions including cities, counties, school districts and special taxing districts.
HB 1378 and HB 114 seek to enhance the transparency of political subdivision debt obligations as a means to allow the citizens of Texas a method to see what they are voting for and what it does to debt on themselves and their child and grandchildren before they vote.
Contact: Kelli Linza
P.O. Box 999