Column: State bonding bill is not jobs billGet ready folks. The answer to Minnesota’s unemployment and economic woes will soon be here.
By: Steve Drazkowski, Wabasha, The Republican Eagle
Get ready folks. The answer to Minnesota’s unemployment and economic woes will soon be here. The Legislature is going to pass a bonding bill!
In coming weeks, you will hear claims this capital investment proposal — which borrows money to fund construction projects around the state — is a “jobs” bill, because it will put 10,000, 20,000, maybe 30,000 back to work.
You will hear cries of joy that the “investment” made in our communities today will pay for themselves tenfold in the future.
You may even hear the bill referred to as the “Minnesota Stimulus Plan of 2010.”
What a farce. If all of this nonsense sounds familiar, it should. We heard the same thing last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
The claims of “tens of thousands of jobs” being created — a figure that always manages to get reported but rarely verified once the work is complete — never come close to meeting the rhetoric.
We’ve seen it the past three years under DFL control: Pass a bonding bill, call it a jobs bill, claim it will create tens of thousands of jobs, and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
And let’s not forget, it only costs you billions of dollars to watch this circus unfold.
Congressional Democrats utilize the same “jobs” playbook. They’ve spent hundreds of billions on bailouts, “Cash for Clunkers,” and a stimulus bill also dubbed as a “jobs” package.
According to www.recovery.gov, Minnesota was awarded $2.575 billion in federal funds. To date, this has created 14,315 jobs.
That means nearly $180,000 spent for every job created by the federal stimulus. Further, a recent Associated Press article noted that a $20 billion federal spending surge for roads and bridges in President Obama’s first stimulus has had no effect on local unemployment rates. Unemployment is actually expected to rise.
Not only is that pathetic, it is unacceptable.
Yet your Legislature is ready to travel that road again. Of the 212 bills already filed prior to the start of session, I’d guess that three-fourths of them are bonding related. These proposed statewide necessities include snow making facilities in Minneapolis and another volleyball court in Rochester. Does this make sense?
It gets worse. Debt service is one of the fastest growing portions of Minnesota’s budget.
Minnesota’s bonding bills normally total at or less than 3 percent of the state’s spending. It has an outstanding bond rating because it has continually created capital investment plans that have stayed within this limit.
Yet we are changing the guideline this year from 3 percent to 3.25 percent, which according to the House Capital Investment Chair, allows for about $2 billion in additional tax-supported debt.
In other words, when state lawmakers face a spending guideline, it’s now acceptable for them to increase the limit rather than adhere to the guideline?
When did Minnesota become Washington? We cannot spend our way to prosperity. Did we throw common sense out the window?
In my experience, I’ve found bonding bills, in large part, to define political cronyism. With the exception of emergency and natural disaster relief funding - which state government should allocate - the rest of the legislation largely consists of earmarked pork projects designed to make the hometown representative look good.
Bring home the bacon? Yes.
Bring home the jobs? Not so much.
Outside of new emergency or disaster relief efforts, or continuing relief assistance from past catastrophes, I don’t believe we should have a bonding bill this year. Sure, it would create some temporary jobs for construction workers, but how will this sure-to-be-labeled “jobs” bill help struggling companies or Main Street business owners who have been forced to lay off employees or significantly reduce their salaries? How will it prevent more Minnesota companies from relocating to Wisconsin, Iowa, or South Dakota due to Minnesota’s high taxes and burdensome regulations?
Minnesotans get it. They understand that stimulus funds and bonding bills will not solve our economic problems. They recognize that state government needs to quit spending money it doesn’t have. It’s time state lawmakers come to the same realization.
Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha, can be reached at (651) 296-2273 or email@example.com.