Thursday, March 29, 2007

Caution urged on state agency bonds

About a year-and-a-half ago there was a special election to provide for a revolving bond authority to maintain the interstate highways. Although it seemed like a good idea, the truckers persuaded voters that the lack of a sunset provision would somehow bring about the end of democracy. At the time, the truckers seemed delusional and completely motivated by self-interest. In retrospect, they might have had a point.

The legislature is sending the governor a bill that would allow for a special election on whether the state Natural Resources Commission may issue up to an additional $300 million in general obligation bonds. Although news reports are a bit vague, this one has a bad smell of a bond issuing authority that never ends. It turns out that this sort of thing is more common that we imagined and there are other instances in state government of such eternal authorizations.

Everything the highway department does is pretty much open to public inspection. We know where the roads are being built. Some of these other smaller agencies need some scrutiny and the governor and lawmakers may want to take that into consideration. Without sounding like some sort of troglodyte, the people should have the last word on general revenue bonds.

(Broadcast Mrch 29, 2007)

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