I am no fan of President Obama. There are many reasons to be concerned about his administration: IRS abuse, Obamacare, domestic spying on citizens and so on.
However, trying to associate our state’s infrastructure issues — such as our Capitol building or weigh stations — with something Obama would do is ridiculous. This ultimately will cost Oklahoma taxpayers more money for the privilege of being more anti-Obama than anyone else. When it comes to doing what is best for Oklahoma, we cannot overreact to what is happening in Washington, D.C.
I have yet to hear anyone in Oklahoma’s Legislature propose a state stimulus package. The problem with the federal stimulus is that it was used primarily for purposes other than repairing or building infrastructure that can benefit citizens for years to come.
The “pay as you go” approach is not practical here. Our Capitol is in desperate need of repair. House Bill 2032 was passed to begin addressing the Capitol building issue, except the measure may be unconstitutional due to the single-subject rule. It has been challenged and will be decided by the Supreme Court.
The bill may be upheld, but it will cost time and money to determine its constitutionality.
The language in HB 2032 was used because we needed to come up with a non-Obama funding solution. This made a bond issue DOA.
Another bond issue that’s needed is to fund new weigh stations. There is already a dedicated revenue source to build them. General revenue would not have to be used. Without a bond issue, construction on these facilities will take years.
Sadly, the need for the weigh stations is now, not later. Construction costs inevitably will rise, costing Oklahomans more than what interest costs will.
Currently, a bond issue for the state would have an interest rate of about 3 percent. With the Federal Reserve indicating it will raise interest rates, the favorable rates we get now won’t last. Why wait?
House Bill 2195 limits general obligation bonds to 5 percent of general revenue. Our state leaders do not want to create burdensome debt levels. But what is magical about a 5-percent cap?
Due to the drought, Oklahoma may have to upgrade its water infrastructure at some point. This will be expensive. If a bond issue for this drives the total debt level to 5.3 percent, are we going to say no? Why legislate yourself into a corner? Infrastructure projects should stand or fail on their own merits. The obsession with Obama ignores good overall financial management and will only cost our citizens more in the long run.
Is it worth it? While the short-term, politically expedient answer may be yes, the longterm answer is a resounding no.
Mitchell, a certified public accountant, is a former Republican candidate for the state Corporation Commission.
Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.