Additionally, regardless of voters’ motives, the May bond elections may have set a new record for the sheer amount of debt on the ballot.
Bonds are debt that local governments ask voters for permission to borrow, often to fund building projects. School districts request bonds more than other local governments, far outpacing cities, counties, and utility districts.
Voters tend to approve most bonds on the ballot. However, the November 2021 election marked the first time in a decade that voters rejected a majority of school district bonds on the November ballot, even while passing most bonds for cities and counties. Concerns over critical race theory and transparency may have contributed to these results.
Voters fell just three bonds shy of repeating those results this month, passing a slim majority of the proposed bonds. With a total of 205 bonds on the ballot, 104 carried and 101 were defeated, according to the Bond Review Board.
Once again, voters seemed particularly unfavorable to school bonds compared to bonds for other local governments.
However, even though the share of passing school bonds was slim, their price tag dwarfed the cost of the school bonds that failed. Voters approved well over $10 billion in school district debt on May 7, rejecting about $6 billion.
This year’s May ballot saw an unusually high number of school district bonds, nearly double the number of bonds on last year’s May ballot. School districts across Texas have not proposed this many bonds in a single election since at least 2015.
Following a lull during the thick of COVID-19, school districts drastically ramped up bond proposals in 2021 and 2022.
Many school districts around Texas also held school board elections on May 7. These races tended to favor candidates promising transparency, thrift, and opposition to diversity measures, suggesting that voters are maintaining November’s momentum.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.