FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 15, 2015
AUSTIN, TX – On October 12th, 2015, the Senate Committee on Inter-Governmental Relations (“IGR”) established its priorities for the interim following the 84th Texas legislative session. One of the committee’s charges includes “Debt Transparency in the Voting Booth” which is an ongoing conversation regarding what types of information should be on a ballot.
The Fast Growth School Coalition (FGSC) wholeheartedly supports transparency related to local debt as evidenced by our member school districts’ local websites which often contain far more financial information than is required by state law. These school districts are held accountable by their local board members and voters—the epitome of local control.
Some critics will contend that voters need more information on the ballot in order to make an educated decision. By this logic, we should also consider each candidate’s top campaign contributors, their occupation, and whether or not a candidate has ever filed for bankruptcy or been convicted of a crime. After all, these are the people who are responsible for a $209.4 billion budget which affects all Texans, not just a single community. The only thing we currently know about a candidate based on the ballot is their name.
The truth is that a bond election ballot already contains helpful information regarding the bond amount and the intended purpose of those funds. Prior to the election, a school district with a bond proposition will have already held community forums, discussed the need for bonds at public school board meetings, posted bond information on its web page, and talked to the local media. It is the responsibility of the voter to learn more about the bond proposal before they vote, just as they learn about their candidates before they vote, because the ballot is a point of decision, not a point of education.