Column: Lawmakers craft bonding bills we can’t affordIn the past few days, I’ve taken phone calls from District 28B residents asking why the Legislature is considering a bonding bill this session.
By: Steve Drazkowski, Wabasha, The Republican Eagle
In the past few days, I’ve taken phone calls from District 28B residents asking why the Legislature is considering a bonding bill this session.
Historically, the second year of the legislative biennium is known as the bonding year, where money is borrowed in order to fund construction projects across Minnesota. Yet we’ve now passed a bonding proposal in both the House and Senate, even though we’ve not done one thing to address our $6.4 billion budget deficit.
The $367 million Senate bonding proposal is slanted heavily toward
Metro-area wants as opposed to rural Minnesota needs. The bill includes proposals that would improve a gorilla exhibit at the Como Park Zoo, create an Asian Pacific cultural center in St. Paul and a bike trail in Coon Rapids, and renovate Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.
The House proposal contains less pork, and was advertised as a package that prioritized “paintbrush and shovel-ready projects that can be undertaken immediately.”
Included was $7.5 million for commuter and passenger rail corridors.
This is the beginning of a push by government-centered big spenders to expand the public burden of a taxpayer-built and taxpayer-subsidized passenger rail system, all while our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate. It sets the stage for the development of a huge mandate for families and businesses to pay to build and operate even more light-rail lines that they will not use.
The one legitimate bonding expenditure included in the bill was $12.7 million (6 percent of the bill) that was dedicated to flood relief.
I thought both proposals sent a bad message to Minnesotans. We’re already spending money faster than we can bring it in, and now we want to borrow money faster than we can spend it.
We’ve had bonding bills the past three years. Time and time again, these proposals are sold as “jobs” bills, and we’re told about the tens of thousands of workers that will soon have employment thanks to the approval of a capital investment package.
If that is truly the case, than why does Minnesota still have $1.16 billion unspent from these previous bonding bills?
Check out the numbers: In the 2006 bonding proposal, $205.9 million has not been issued, or 20 percent of the original amount authorized. The 2007 bill has $24.3 million in limbo, or 43 percent of the bill. And of last year’s bonding bill $651.6 million has still not been spent. That’s 71percent of the bill.
If these previous projects were so vital, then why is $1.16 billion just sitting there? With all these funds unspent, why do we need to put another $200 million on the state’s credit card? And with the projects already allocated, why aren’t these tens of thousands of people working?
It’s also worth noting that this bill exceeds the 3 percent state budget borrowing limit. Minnesota has an outstanding bond rating because it has continually created capital investment plans that have stayed within
I don’t approve of the “spend first, solve the deficit later” message the Democrat majorities in the Senate and House are sending.
This bill will place our hard-earned, excellent bond ratings in jeopardy for some alleged short-term job creation.
If we’re not careful, we’re going to drive up the cost of borrowing money in the future for projects that are really needed. And in my opinion, the only project that is in desperate need of immediate funding can be found where the floodwaters continue to impact the Red River Valley.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha, can be reached at (651) 296-2273 or rep. firstname.lastname@example.org.