On bond election reforms in Texas and the November 2020 election

Image credit: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

The November 2020 elections have come and, well, as of this writing not quite gone yet. We don’t quite know yet whether Donald Trump will hold on to the White House, or whether his Democrat challenger, Joe Biden will unseat him, albeit things are veering towards Mr. Biden’s favor. Likewise, the U.S. Senate still has a few outstanding contests left to settle, albeit it’s looking as though my Party, the Republican Party will hold on to a narrow majority. The U.S. House will stay in Democrat hands, albeit with a narrowed majority.

I’ll discuss my thoughts about the Texas and Federal elections in a separate, followup post – but I wanted to start with a personal political victory for Neal Meyer. Readers of blogHOUSTON and activist friends of mine know that I’ve been on a crusade against indebtedness and bond elections for much of the past decade. You can read some of my past posts on the subject here, here, and here.

Of all the things that people are concerned about in politics, the one thing that concerns me the most has been the subject of indebtedness – not only for governments, but for business and for individual households. Now, the taking on of debt can be a very constructive thing. People can take on a mortgage to order to buy a house. Businesses can take on debt to expand their operations, and governments can take on debt to build an infrastructure project such as a dam, roads, or for that matter to fight wars of survival. However, indebtedness can very easily hobble one’s life. I’ve personally seen the effects of debt on friends of mine who have struggled with debt payments. Businesses with high debt loads can very easily get into trouble if things go south, like what is happening with the oil and gas industry right now. Likewise, governments can get to a point where quite a bit of taxpayer monies are actually being used to pay off interest or debt instead of going something constructive.

With this in mind, I’ve been advocating and pushing bond election reforms for years. Well, as blogHOUSTON readers know, I’ve seen some success with my advocacy, such as the passing of Senate Bill 30 in the 2019 Texas Legislature. Since its passage, I’ve become quite eager to see the results of my advocacy, and thanks to some bond elections that were scheduled for the November 2020 election, some early results are in.

The $3.7 billion Dallas ISD bond election, which I posted about some weeks back, was held. Because of SB 30, school districts are now required to itemize bond proposals, rather than stuff a bunch of things into one big bond proposal and force an up or down vote over an entire package. The result was that DISD voters supported most of the bond proposal, but not all of it! They voted for the $3+ billion main part having to do with new school buildings and renovating old buildings, and a $249 million technology component. However, they voted down 3 other parts to the bond proposal, including bonds for new sports stadiums, a new swimming natatorium, and a new theater and performing arts facility. Likewise, my friend Erin Anderson with Empower Texans posted on their Texas Scorecard site that a school bond proposal up in Collin County Texas also was partially defeated. Once again, voters approved bonding for school buildings, but did not approve bonds for athletic facilities. In all, I estimate that my ideas staved off more than $300 million in additional bond debt in just those two school elections alone. It may not be the biggest thing in the world, but I’ll take my rare victories when I get them.

Be that as it may, it is interesting that judging from early election results, voters might be willing to vote for things they perceive to be necessities, but bond proponents in the future are likely going to have a much harder time persuading voters to pay for what might be termed the fluff or the goodies. And that’s a good thing.

My next post will be about the broader November 2020 election, both nationally and here in Texas. See y’all soon!