Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Are We Building or Sinking?

Crain's has an interesting article about ongoing discussions between the Governor's office and the Four Tops to reach an agreement on a $3 billion bond deal that would put about 2/3 of the cash into road improvements, with the remainder going toward public transit and education projects. Now astute readers will realize that this could not be passed without Republican buy-in (no pun intended?), but Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson is sounding like that might not be too much of an issue:
Mr. Watson specifically suggests the state use a $175-million-a-year "windfall" it's receiving from sales taxes on the rising price of gasoline to help pay interest on the $2 billion in road bonds. In addition, Senate Republicans "would take a look at" boosting the state cigarette tax if necessary to pay for school and/or transit bonds, he says.
Now roads, transit and schools are all laudable and necessary goals, but is anybody else just a little worried about this?:

According to the numbers, provided by the State, we are tripling per capita pension indebtedness over just a six year period. I am not going to revisit the previous discussions here about the pension bill at the end of last session, but at some point, much sooner rather than later, we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions in order to keep this ship afloat.

3 Comments:

At January 3, 2006 at 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey,

Barring the unlikely event that the Four Tops and the Governor demonstrate leadership and tackle this problem before it gets any worse, how bad do things have to get before they are forced to act?

Basically I am asking for what scenario would have to arise to force leadership, on both sides, to make painful choices? What set of circumstances have to occur before Republicans drop the "no new taxes/fees under any circumstances" stance and Democrats drop the "no cuts to services" stance?

I know you say the day of reckoning is fast approaching, but I bet that there are at least another two or three bond deals beyond the current one being discussed before leadership in Springfield bites the bullet.

P.S. If the current bond deal goes through can you add a provision that requires "member initiatives" to be voted on individually by the G.A. before an agency can release the funds.

I have no illusion that this would stop pork projects, but at least it would be on the public record and might stop the most egregious ones.

 
At January 3, 2006 at 4:53 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

I wish that I had a good answer for you, but the reality is that I just don't know. Neither party really has clean hands on the issue, so nobody is really positioned to grab the reform mantle on this subject. Nobody that is, other than the public.

We are a state that tends to react, not act. As such, I believe that once public programs begin to suffer enough as the result of our debt obligations (some can righfully argue that this is already the case), the trickle down effect may mobilize the masses sufficiently to force action from the Legislature.

 
At January 3, 2006 at 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basically I am asking for what scenario would have to arise to force leadership, on both sides, to make painful choices? What set of circumstances have to occur before Republicans drop the "no new taxes/fees under any circumstances" stance and Democrats drop the "no cuts to services" stance?

The Democrats and the governor "should take a no spending" stance. The problem would be solved.

 

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