Mayor, Chamber of Commerce encourage 'yes' votes in Austin ISD bond election

One day after the start of early voting for the May 11 elections, Mayor Lee Leffingwell and other public officials plan to remind the community to get out and cast their vote in the election for Austin ISD's $892 million bond package.

At a news conference April 30, Leffingwell is slated to speak about the bond as part of the "Vote Yes for Austin Schools" campaign along with representatives from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Education Austin, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, parents, and community members who support the AISD bond propositions.

A number of parents and groups including the Austin Council of PTAs have already pledged their support of the bond.

The AISD bond comprises four propositions aiming to fund improvements in categories including technology, building infrastructure, academic initiatives, fine arts, athletics and relief from overcrowding, according to AISD. There are hundreds of individual line items in the bond. Some changes would be districtwide, while others are school-specific.

The Travis County Taxpayers Union opposes the bond and recently filed and was denied a request for a restraining order aiming to stop the election, according to TCTU founder Don Zimmerman. The TCTU held its own news conference as well on the first day of early voting.

He explained the TCTU has also filed an ethics complaint because AISD is not allowed to use district resources to promote the bond, and the TCTU feels the information AISD has shared about the bond is unfair and misleading.

He cited that while by law the ballot language must disclose that the potential cost of the bond is unlimited, the district's ballot language does not. He added the frequently asked questions page at https://www.austinisd.org// bond states that the anticipated cost for the average taxpayer with a $200,000 home would be about $70 a year.

"We're saying that's bogus, that's misleading and unfair, and that's not true. It's misleading voters, and it amounts to advocacy," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the TCTU designed its own FAQ for voters and is sharing additional information about the bond at https://www.tctunion.com/. He also said the group plans to challenge the election when it is over.

The AISD bond news conference begins at Public Square at City Hall, 301 West 2nd Street, on April 30 at 10 a.m.