What Texas ISDs Don’t Want You To Know
By Peggy Venable
Cities, counties and school districts along with their associations officially opposed a good government bill which would have provided taxpayer transparency for local government debt.
Texas local governments are $324 billion in debt. We are second only to California in total local debt and second only to New York in per capita debt. We are leaving future generations with a mountain of debt.
School districts are carrying the most debt – a whopping $107 billion (principal plus interest).
Debt service (paying off this debt) has increased form 7% to 9.8% of total school district expenditures, making them the fastest-rising spending category for ISDs in the past decade.
We – along with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs – believe you have a right to know exactly how and where state and local governments spend your money. Comptroller Combs set up a website “Texas, It’s Your Money” to post reports on education and other government debt. (Comptroller Combs has been a true Trailblazer for Transparency in Texas.)
While the local government debt is mounting, most Texans are not aware of this looming problem. Kids in school today are being left with a legacy of debt – - not the legacy most of us want to leave our kids.
One bill could have changed all that. The bill, HB 14 and SB 14, would have required local taxing entities to provide voters with information on current debt when more debt is proposed and put on the ballot. These good government transparency bills failed to pass in the 2013 Texas legislative session. And the legislation failed to pass because local governments – including public education associations and independent school districts – actively worked to kill the bills.
While taxpayers deserve to know who opposed the legislation, you are funding folks who worked to kill the bill and to keep you in the dark on how much debt you owe.
The fact is – every school district, which belongs to the associations who lobbied against the bill, is responsible for opposing this good government transparency bill.
So let’s look at which education associations and ISDs testified in opposition to the bill:
• Brad Lancaster representing the Fast Growth School Coalition and Lake Travis ISD
• James Wilcox representing the Texas Association of School Boards, Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas School Alliance
• Karen Rue, Superintendent, Northwest ISD and representing the Fast Growth School Coalition, Ft. Worth, TX
• Steve West, CFO Georgetown ISD and representing the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas School Alliance
• Ken McCraw, Executive Director of the Texas Association Community Schools
• Catherine Clark representing the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators
• David D. Anderson representing the Arlington ISD Board of Trustees
• Ken McCraw representing the Texas Association of Community Schools
• Karen Rue representing the Fast Growth School Coalition
• Michelle Smith representing the Fast Growth School Coalition (Note: she is also daughter of House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock)
Likely, every ISD in the state belongs to one of the associations listed above.
We hope this sheds some light on your school district and their associations’ activities which many taxpayers are unaware of. If you agree that your education dollars should not be spent to lobby against transparency, your superintendent and school board members need to hear from you.
Texas ISDs and the associations they fund may not want you to know how much debt you owe, so we want you to know just who is lobbying the legislature against the taxpayer’s interest.
For a listing of all cities, counties, education and other taxing entities which – when they come to you to increase their debt – opposed your right to see how much local debt you currently owe, go to: http://americansforprosperity.org/texas/legislativealerts/who-opposed-local-government-transparency-you-have-a-right-to-know/#ixzz2WsqFA3iM