Let’s Get Everyone In On This: Bond Elections in November

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In April, TPPF’s James Quintero testified before the House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services in support of House Bill 664, a bill to require bond elections to be held on the November uniform election date. The bill is currently pending in committee.

Below are his prepared remarks delivered orally to the committee.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee—

My name is James Quintero and I represent the Texas Public Policy Foundation. I am here today to testify in support of House Bill 664.

As a matter of sound policy, bond propositions are best decided when the most number of voters engage in the decision-making process. Big decisions require maximum input.

And yet, not all bond propositions are decided in fashion. In fact, a fair number of massive new debt proposals are settled by a relative few during off-peak periods. Here are three quick examples from before the pandemic.

  • In May 2019, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD sought voter approval for a single-item, $1.8 billion bond proposition. The bond passed with just 4.65% of registered voters casting a vote one way or the other. (70% vs. 30%).
  • In May 2018, Northside ISD received voter approval for a bond proposition worth $849 million. Only 2.74% (or 17,256) cast a ballot either For or Against the district’s bond proposition. (Just 1.86 percent in favor).
  • Also in May 2018, Denton ISD persuaded voters to approve a $750 million proposition. Only 2.44% weighed in on the issue, with just 1.82% voting in support.

These are not isolated incidents either. Across the state, there are many other examples just like these.

The system in place today is suboptimal. It’s also unpopular.

Recently, the Texas Public Policy Foundation received results back from a poll conducted by WPA Intelligence that asked 800+ registered voters about the November uniform election date. Here is the question and our findings:

Do you ROTATE support or oppose END ROTATION requiring local bond issues to be on the November general election ballot to ensure as many voters as possible participate? IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE, ASK: And, would you say you STRONGLY (support/oppose) or just SOMEWHAT?

TOTAL SUPPORT 80%

TOTAL OPPOSE 9%

These findings suggest that public opinion very much supports legislative interest in reform.

And so in the interest of encouraging accountability and public participation in the bond issuance process, I urge the committee to look favorably on HB 664.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.