Would you pay off one credit card with another?
Having served as Ranking Member on the Bonding Sub-Committee for seven years and being challenged to create a reasonable bonding bill which was agreeable to the majority—this year’s task was one of the most difficult I have ever faced. The legislation was crafted after four full days of testimony from all agency commissioners; weeks of deliberations conducted in a bipartisan manner and with my colleagues Rep. Betty Boukus (D-22), and Sens. Andrea Stillman (D-20) and Michael McLachlan (R-24). Although we worked tirelessly and harmoniously on this package, the final product is something I cannot support.
The debt burden presented in this legislation is just too high a price to pay. I believe that borrowing to cover operating costs is counterproductive, and it goes against basic principles of good financial management. If the bonding package does get passed, the state will be borrowing far beyond its means. Not only will this increase the amount of debt, but it will prolong the payback period to the next two generations. I do not wish to burden our children and grandchildren with more debt than they already have. If we can’t pay this money back, with interest, then we should not borrow it.
In an effort to get back on a balanced fiscal track, the state has a goal of repaying the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) deficit, currently estimated at $1.2 billion, over a 15-year period resulting in an annual payment of $80 million. Instead of being disciplined and simply budgeting $80 million a year to pay back a debt to ourselves, the Democrats propose to borrow money and pay $27 million more in interest charges each year. Taxpayers are being asked to unnecessarily pay $186 million over the next 13 years. This is the equivalent of paying off one credit card by charging on another one.
Although I will not support this bill, there is much about it I find admirable. It takes care of deferred maintenance of state-owned properties and other real assets; it funds education—from preschool through college with emphasis on technical training and community colleges. It also provides for affordable housing; continues a commitment to open space preservation and protection of the environment; eliminates earmarks, repairs and improves our infrastructure; and modernizes technology by upgrading and integrating programs across agencies. The money invested will increase efficiency and enhance cost effectiveness and cost savings. All of this accomplished while staying under the bond cap.
However, I cannot agree to this magnitude of additional borrowing to cover operating costs. Therefore, I will not support Senate Bill 842: An Act Authorizing and Adjusting Bonds of the State for Capital Improvements, Transportation and other Purposes.
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