by Ross Kecseg
We’ve written extensively regarding Texas’ local debt epidemic. But don’t take our word for it. Both the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the State Comptroller have been analyzing government data in an effort to educate the public regarding the wildly disproportionate growth in government taxing, spending and debt trends.
First a few important facts…
Since 1992, property tax levies from public school districts grew 34% faster than population and inflation. City levies grew 57% faster; counties, 88% faster.
Between 2001 and 2011, local debt in Texas grew twice the rate of population and inflation growth. As a result, Texas now has the second-highest local debt, per person, in the nation. Over one third of all local debt is held by school districts, which place bond propositions before voters to approve in May elections.
Taxpayers in Arlington ISD will face such a proposition this spring…albeit a stupendously large one.
The school board is asking voters to approve a single proposition of $663,129,278 in new debt, or $10,266 per student, to be spent over the next several years. Once fully issued, AISD’s total debt would roughly double, from $567,489,788, to nearly $1 billion, depending on how quickly the debt is retired.
To put those figures in perspective, districts with debt in Texas hold roughly $13,500 per student, on average. If the AISD proposition passes, they would rank approximately 40% higher than average, at $19,000 per student.
Just five years ago, voters approved a $197,000,000 package, of which $17 mil remains unspent.