By Rep. Joe McDonald
Input from local folks is my most valuable resource as I continue doing my best to represent the people of this area. That’s why I will soon be conducting a legislative survey and hosting town hall meetings throughout District 19B.
There are serious challenges in front of us and it’s important for us to face them together, sharing information and ideas at the grass-roots level so we can remain informed and have a hand in the process of shaping solutions. Much of the talk these days is focused on jobs, the business climate and our state budget, but my survey and town hall events will include some other important areas, such as eliminating wasteful spending.
One thing we could discuss is a relatively new trend regarding capital investment bills. A “bonding bill” is designed to fund essential projects pertaining to our state infrastructure. These must be publicly owned and are usually brick-and-mortar properties of statewide significance. This includes everything from upgrading city sewer systems to working on roads and bridges and constructing new classrooms at public universities.
Historically, bonding bills were authorized in even-numbered years. Somewhere along the way, these bills became an annual occurrence. Now, this is the first biennium that we are exceeding $1 billion in debt service payments from the general fund. To make matters worse, our state already has approximately $2.6 billion in authorized, but unissued general-obligation bonds, and now our governor wants to add another $1 billion.
A better approach might be to focus on using those dollars for projects it already approved and not add more debt to the credit card. We could provide flood-relief funding and support some other essentials, cancel the pork projects and start climbing out of our $6.2 billion budget shortfall.
We must maintain our critical infrastructure even during lean times, but we’ve strayed from holding bonding projects to basic requirement standards. Bonding bills have actually been dubbed “jobs bills” in order to gain support from the public. I do not agree with Minnesota spending our tax dollars Washington D.C.-style. The federal stimulus bill failed to deliver as advertised and we can’t afford to continue adding debt in Minnesota, especially since our state’s Constitution requires us to balance our budget.
I look forward to addressing this and other important issues in my legislative survey and during the upcoming town hall meetings; details on each will be provided soon. As always, feel free to send me a message by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. McDonald can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4336. He is also available by email at email@example.com. His office is located at 523 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.