Legislative Testimony for LB20: Require voter approval of public building commission bonds
The Platte Institute believes this bill helps to increase local transparency. While Nebraska local subdivisions hold bond referendums in most cases, there are some that go without the input of voters.
We understand that most of Nebraska’s local subdivisions need to use their bonding authority to fund certain projects. However, because in most cases issuing bonds results in associated tax increases, it is important these are always put to the people for a vote. In some instances, public building commissions can approve a bond without the vote of the people, and we feel this bill will help close that loophole to ensure voter participation and more transparency.
When subdivisions issue bonds without voter approval it results in a lack of accountability and transparency with respect to local government debt. Lowering taxpayer exposure to municipal debt starts with two key rules: (1) all debt should be put to a referendum vote concurrent with a general or primary election, and (2) governments should report the full financing costs and expected repayment plan for any debt before a vote or put the tax increase amount associated with such debt on the ballot.
LB20 makes strides to accomplish these two key rules, and the Platte Institute supports this attempt at more government transparency.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions the committee may have.