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Texas Lawmakers Push for Weaker School Bond Ballot Transparency

Republican lawmakers in the Texas House and Senate are pushing measures this week that weaken ballot transparency requirements for school bonds, making it easier for school districts to win voter approval for new property taxes to pay for new debt.

When voters approve school bonds, they also approve property taxes “sufficient, without limit as to rate or amount,” to repay the bond debt plus interest—imposing new 20- to 40-year tax burdens on local property owners.

In 2019, school finance reform legislation added a rule requiring school bond ballot propositions to include the statement, “THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.”

Over the next few election cycles, the pass rate for school bond propositions dropped to an all-time low of 61 percent.

School district officials, as well as vendors who benefit financially from school bonds, blamed the new ballot language and lobbied lawmakers to change it.

State Rep. J.M. Lozano (R–Kingsville) filed House Bill 4522, which changes the required school bond ballot language to ...