As the state Capitol continues to deteriorate, lawmakers continue to say that using a bond issue to pay for repairs and renovation isn't a legitimate option. “We're in an environment of ‘don't pass bond proposals,'” says state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville.
We wonder: Where outside of the Capitol does that environment exist? Are lawmakers being bombarded by constituents pleading with them not to pass bond issues? If so, lawmakers are truly just representing the people who sent them to Oklahoma City. But we can't help but believe that most Oklahomans understand that governments occasionally use bond issues to pay for infrastructure needs.
What's happened is that conservatives at the Statehouse are placing spending through a bond issue in the same league as the profligate deficit spending that's going on in Washington, D.C. They're not close to being the same thing.
Those pooh-poohing the bond issue idea — the House voted 77-15 against such a proposal this spring — have suggested a pay-as-you-go approach to fixing the Capitol, or perhaps raiding the state's Rainy Day Fund. The former is a bad idea because the amount allocated each year could change on a whim. And even tapping 25 percent of the Rainy Day Fund, the maximum lawmakers could get by statute, wouldn't cover the estimated $153 million needed for repairs.
One lawmaker said he'd like to see repair work paid for “over a period of time rather than a bond issue.” But a bond issue allows for a low annual payment over many years, with the state getting all the money it needs up front.
Sears suggests letting voters decide the bond issue question. That's rich — wash your hands of the issue instead of doing the job you were elected to do. Not to mention that the soonest a question could be put on the ballot is probably November 2014.
And so the crumbling continues.