2012 destroys 2011's school bond money record, concerns mount
By Josh Altic
its laws governing school bond and tax votes
School bonds & taxes (Part 1 & Part 2)
County website evals.
Last year was a busy year and not just for officials up for election. In 2012, voters in 14 states cast their vote on a total of $26 billion in school bonds; the majority of which were voted on in the last six months of the year.
A total of 486 questions asking to increase school debt were voted on in 2012. 2011 featured 361 school bond measures. Although the number of bond measures only increased by slightly more than a third, school districts in the states covered by Ballotpedia's school bond and tax report asked for over $26 billion in 2012. Just a little over $14.5 billion was asked for in 2011. The 2012 bond amount of $26,471,779,240, dwarfed the $14,666,140,000 of 2011, made for more than an 80.5% increase in bond money.
Drilling down into the $26 billion figure, the average bond amount per measure found in the 2012 school bond and tax report was $54,468,682. This is a substantial increase from the average bond amount from the 2011 bond report, which was $40,626,426.
Not only has the number of bond measures and the amount of money per bond increased, but voters seemed even more willing to approve these larger debt increases in their school districts. In 2011, voters approved only 52.41% of the $14,666.14 million asked for, providing $6,979.33 million available to schools. In shocking contrast, 2012 saw voters approving $22,246.56 million of the $26,471.78 million requested, amounting to 84.04% approval. This is an increase of over 30% from 2011.
California schools alone, with 140 bond measures, were responsible for over half of the school bond money asked for in 2012. Voters decided on $16,728,745,000 and approved $15 billion. Texas was the runner-up for "most school bond money requested." Texans approved $1,482.31 million out of the $1,796.51 million proposed by Texas school districts. Washington schools round out third place, asking for a little over $1,263 million in 18 bond questions. Voters approved $609.85 million. Notably, Florida earned a place in the top five, even though it only had one bond measure in 2012. A Miami-Dade School District bond measure authorized a $1.2 billion debt increase.
According to a Los Angeles Times analysis, the growing amount of debt incurred by school districts in California might be cause for concern. An estimated 200 school districts in California are using capital appreciation bonds, which do not require payments starting immediately. They allow the districts to put off paying back the debt for many years. According to California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, the use of this kind of debt is irresponsible and, concerning these kinds of bonds, he said, "They are terrible deals. The school boards and staffs that approved of these bonds should be voted out of office and fired."
The table below breaks down (by state) exactly how much money in millions was approved or defeated in 2012.
|Arizona||$580.6 M||$0 M||100%|
|California||$15,109.75 M||$1,618.995 M||90.32%|
|Colorado||$811.822 M||$18.84 M||97.73%|
|Florida||$1,200 M||$0 M||100%|
|Illinois||$232.76 M||$176.42 M||56.88%|
|Michigan||$373.89 M||$649.02 M||36.55%|
|Missouri||$259.43 M||$119.8 M||68.41%|
|New Jersey||$42.45 M||$18.37 M||55.61%|
|Ohio||$613.45 M||$386.83 M||61.33%|
|Oregon||$640.91 M||$57.74 M||91.74%|
|Texas||$1,482.31 M||$314.2 M||82.51%|
|Washington||$609.85 M||$653.2 M||48.28%|
|Wisconsin||$374.65 M||$210.11 M||64.07%|
For a comparison, the table below breaks down (by state) exactly how much money in millions was approved or defeated in 2011.
|State||Amount Approved||Amount Defeated||% approved|
|Arizona||$709.8 M||$54.8 M||93%|
|California||$981.1 M||$1,392 M||41%|
|Colorado||$105 M||$696.62 M||13%|
|Florida||$0 M||$0 M||N/A|
|Illinois||$39.27 M||$326.66 M||11%|
|Michigan||$374.45 M||$667.06 M||36%|
|Missouri||$204.09 M||$16.425 M||93%|
|New Jersey||$374.45 M||$667.06 M||36%|
|New Mexico||$63.7 M||$2.3 M||96.52%|
|Texas||$4,303.55 M||$1469.5 M||74.55%|
|Ohio||$202.3 M||$445.11 M||31%|
|Oregon||$244.5 M||$738.8 M||25%|
|Washington||$91.49 M||$224.7 M||29%|
|Wisconsin||$88.105 M||$278.295 M||25%|
- Approval rates of local school bond and tax questions in 2012, July-December
- Approval rates of local school bond and tax questions in 2012, January-June
- School bond and tax elections in 2012
- Voting on school bond and tax measures
- Where to find information about local school bond and tax elections
- State-by-state comparison of school bond and tax laws
- Approval rates of local school bond and tax elections (2012)
- "Los Angeles Times", "California school districts face huge debt on risky bonds", November 28, 2012
- NPR, "School District Owes $1 Billion On $100 Million Loan," December 7, 2012
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- December Vote Ends Difficult Year for School Construction Referendums, December 11, 2013
- RESULTS OF BOND ELECTIONS AROUND NEW MEXICO
- Texas Bond Review Board, 2011 Figures