Prosper ISD, a small affluent school district in North Texas, is asking voters to approve four bond propositions costing $2.8 billion (principal only) or more than $5 billion when principal and interest are both accounted for, according to the Voter Information Document. But while most people, including myself, have been fixated on the bond package’s cost, another aspect of it is beginning to stir up controversy.
In a recent article from the left-leaning Dallas Observer, Prosper ISD resident and mother-of-two Emily Cochrane raises concerns about the bond campaign which, among other things, hopes to win funding for “the state’s most expensive football stadium.” Cochrane laments over the campaign’s overly-aggressive nature, saying:
“‘The entire bond campaign has been extremely misleading and stacked in favor of the bond,’ Cochrane said. ‘I have received no less than eight marketing mailers about the bond with misleading facts on it—things like using growth from 2002. I should hope we have grown in 20 years, but that certainly presents a bigger number, and saying that it [the bond] doesn’t affect the tax rate. So, people are out here literally thinking this is ‘free money.’” [emphasis mine]
Now, to be fair, sending out that many “marketing mailers” to any one resident isn’t unlawful, only irritating. However, the bombardment of brochures does raise an interesting question: What has motivated Prosper ISD’s pro-bond forces to so zealously promote the package?
While the answer isn’t exactly clear, it isn’t unthinkable that a powerful rent-seeking force, consisting of architects, engineers, and other construction-related professions, has formed in order to win passage of the bonds so as to benefit on the backend. First get the bonds approved, then get big contracts from the district.
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
If something along these lines is happening, as the hard-and-steady mailer campaign suggests, then it is further evidence that Texas’ bond issuance process is fundamentally flawed and being driven by the rent-seeker class. In turn, this should spark meaningful legislative reform that, at a minimum, prevents taxpayers from being taken advantage of like this. If it isn’t happening, then it becomes quite difficult to explain who is sending so many marketing mailers and why.