Passed bonds = debt issued to finance local gov’t building projects. Taxpayers will repay the borrowed money plus interest.
What does the 2022 Texas Republican Party Platform,
written and approved by grassroots conservatives,
say about bond elections?
The following two platform planks address 1) an utter lack of transparency that yields inaccurate bond project costs (incomplete project price tag) on ballots, and 2) the history of low voter turnout that passes huge blocks of debt, raising taxes on families, those on fixed incomes, and small businesses.
Platform Plank #92. Bonds Create Bondage: We urge the Texas Legislature to amend the Texas Election Code to require bond issues be approved by a 2/3 majority of those voting and only if 20% of all registered voters in the district cast ballots. Taxpayer standing must be established to allow taxpayers to hold government entities accountable.
Platform Plank #239. Bond Elections: State and local bond election ballots shall be required to include the amount of debt currently outstanding, current debt service payments, current per capita debt obligations, the amount of new debt being proposed, estimated debt service for the new debt, and estimated per capita burden being proposed. The bond issue must obtain a 2/3 affirmative vote of at least 20% of registered voters in the voting jurisdiction. No public funds are to be spent influencing a bond election. We oppose bundling of items on bond election ballots and “rolling polling” for bond and tax rate increase elections.
Why is this important?
We need the Texas Legislature, Governor, Lt. Governor, and House Speaker to get on board with these reforms to make the cost of these debt-building bond elections CLEAR to voters. Legislation should also be passed and signed into law that requires a turnout of 20% of registered voters and a subsequent 2/3 majority of the turnout to pass these behemoths.
Do you know if your county, city, ISD, community college, or special taxing district has a bond election on your Nov. 8 ballot? Know what it’s for? Know the full price tag?
There’s a grand total of $21.1 Billion in projects on the Nov. 8 ballot. This total does NOT include the price of financing (the interest)! Can you imagine what the interest will be on $21.1 Billion?
Start your fact-finding mission by clicking here: Texas Bond Review Board; enter 11/8/22 in the space for Election Date (or click on calendar icon), then hit enter.
Now that you are looking at the sortable table of all bond elections on ballots across Texas, the easiest way to find the principal ONLY portion of a bond election for your ballot is to sort the table by county. Click through the pages (see bottom left corner) or you may download to Excel and sort.
Once you find your county and any bond elections inside your county, go to your taxing entity website (city, county, ISD, special taxing entity) to see if they report how much interest will be charged to borrow this money and how many years it will take for taxpayers to pay it off. Don’t find that key information? Then start calling your elected officials to get the information before you vote.
Here’s our local example of information left off the ballot,
left off mailers sent to voters by those pushing the courthouse project,
and misinformation about the over-65 voter impact.
We think you might learn from this analysis!
The Smith County Courthouse & Parking Structure
Bond Directly involves YOUR wallet!
You should know the facts before you vote!
Do you buy a vehicle or a house without knowing the full price tag? Didn’t think so – especially when fuel, electricity, grocery prices, and property tax bills are soaring, and inflation is eating your income!
Before you vote, know these additional facts, and if you believe a new courthouse is a “good investment,” at least you will know the full price tag when you vote and will be ready to have this added to your property tax bill.
Your ballot says: “The Issuance of $179,000,000 Tax Bonds for a New County Courthouse and Parking Structure and Levying the Tax in
Payment for Such Bonds.”
The actual price tag is >$303,840,445. *
What’s the $125 MILLION difference? The INTEREST charged on the bond debt. All bond projects require interest (debt service) payments over the life (years) of the borrowed principal. Taxpayers are always on the hook for the entire amount – principal PLUS interest. Your elected officials just don’t include that extra amount on the ballot! They could, but because they are not required to do it, they do not! Instead, most taxing entities “low ball it” by talking in terms of “just a few pennies on your tax rate” or “it will only be the cost of two cups of Starbucks coffee a day.” *[Source: Specialized Public Finance, Inc. report to Smith County Commissioners dated 8/01/2022]
FACT: Over-65 Homestead Exemptions with frozen ceilings on property taxes are indeed impacted by major long-term debt. Each time voters approve a “Let’s borrow millions” bond project, property tax debt burdens for ALL taxpayers go up. Your over-65 property tax ceiling is frozen – not the floor! Adding debt ensures taxes for the over-65s will not go down.
Wait! What? Taxes for over-65s won’t go down because this new long-term debt will highly likely never be paid off the rest of your natural life! Also, when the property is passed on to children/grandchildren under 65, the exemption is removed, and property taxes are raised. If instead of passing your homestead down to heirs, you sell it, property taxes owed on the homestead by new owners will jump up way past your ceiling! In a recession, when interest rates are also soaring, this could pose a considerable problem selling a home.
I hope this helps you become better informed before you vote! If you still believe the extra taxes and extra debt are worth adding to your property tax bill during a recession, that is your choice!
Mind how you go,
Grassroots America – We the People PAC