Column: We don’t need growing mountain of debtLast week the Minnesota House passed a bonding bill totaling more than $1 billion.
By: Tim Kelly, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
Last week the Minnesota House passed a bonding bill totaling more than $1 billion. When you add debt service to the tab, the total is closer to $1.7 billion.
House leadership made it perfectly clear that passing a bonding bill is their top priority for the session. I feel they need to re-evaluate their priorities and balance the budget first.
It would be more accurate to call the bonding bill the borrowing bill.
Essentially the state borrows money to fund construction projects around Minnesota and pays the debt service out of the general fund.
In each legislative biennium the major focus of the first year is implementing a budget, the second year is passing a bonding bill.
There are projects in this bill that are necessary and have statewide significance, but the problem is we don’t have a balanced budget. That must be addressed first.
It is well-publicized Minnesota faces a $1.2 billion deficit this year, and that number is expected to grow to $5.4 billion next biennium. It is irresponsible to borrow another billion dollars before we come up with a solution.
We currently spend $2 million per day more than we take in.
The more we delay, the deeper we sink into debt. We must solve this problem now, because, unlike the folks in Washington, we cannot just print more money if we need it.
I have heard from many of you and know you are struggling. Minnesotans across the state are cutting back, reducing spending and making the necessary adjustments to make ends meet.
Legislators must keep this in mind when crafting a bonding bill. The focus must remain on needs, like transportation infrastructure, education and keeping our public safe, not wants.
This bill allocates millions for volleyball courts, shade tree programs and sculpture gardens. These projects are well-intentioned, but are they necessary? I think not. This bill is far too large.
House leadership argues we must act quickly to put Minnesotans back to work now, but their logic is faulty. Most of these jobs are short-term construction jobs for specific projects, and the vast majority of these projects will not even begin until next year.
We currently have more than $2 billion worth of bonding projects that have yet to begin. We need long-term sustainable growth, not short-term quick fixes that don’t even work in the short-term.
There are projects in this bill that benefit our state, but we must balance the budget first.
The cost of the bill is also far too high. We must focus on fixing Minnesota’s shaky financial foundation before we think about borrowing more money.
We cannot leave our children to pick up the pieces.
Please let me know what you think.
You can write me at 241 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155. You can call me at (651) 296-8635 or e-mail me at rep.tim.kelly