Proposed state bond debt cap is irresponsibile
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 7:11 AM
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee last week advanced a bill that would cap the state's bond debt at its current level, which, by the way, experts say is at least $300 million less than the state could easily manage.
The fact that Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is principal author of House Bill 2195, suggests that the measure will easily pass the House.
HB 2195 is touted as "a measure to ensure the public's tax dollars are spent and protected in a responsible manner."
Quite the contrary, making this arbitrary and ridiculous cap a matter of state law would be the height of irresponsibility.
It would be irresponsible to cripple the state's ability to address the multiple millions of dollars in capital needs that face Oklahoma, starting with its crumbling Capitol building and including its substandard roads and bridges. In fact, recent progress toward bringing roads and bridges up to snuff would go for naught if bond funds aren't available to continue the effort.
It also is irresponsible to say, as Speaker Shannon does in a press release issued Thursday, that Oklahoma's bond debt is "out of control," because that is simply untrue. Oklahoma's bond debt is far below what it could responsibly handle.
Time was when conservative Republicans such as Shannon chanted a mantra that government ought to be run like a business. But no business would deliberately cripple its ability to borrow money when there is a need for it, when interest rates are favorable and when it is in good shape to service the added debt.
The only good thing that can be said about this wrong-headed measure is that the cap will be statutory, not constitutional, so a future, more responsible, Legislature will be able to repeal it when a bond issue is needed to fund necessary capital improvements.
Original Print Headline: Irresponsible