To the Editor:
We have arrived at a place where our legislators see bonds as a necessary component of state government. Resorting to bonds to fund state government might sometimes be absolutely necessary, but usually is not. My own resistance to using bonds is based upon both a concept of how a state should conduct itself and a deep-seated, but ill-defined mistrust of politicians.
Every time we have a bond package, it is persuasively introduced as urgent funding for a noble enterprise. Sometimes, it is the very necessary need to repair roads and bridges. These repairs, we are told, if further delayed, will fester into conditions many times more expensive.
Frequently, the bonds are intended to fund one or more of the various elements of education. Sometimes, this is research, sometimes it’s to repair the university’s infrastructure, but we are usually told that any delay in funding will be imprudent and will have deleterious results. And the most persuasive reason, the one always used, is that if the bonds are authorized, they will create jobs.
If these items are so important, why weren’t they authorized by the legislature? May we confidently believe that everything passed by the legislature was more important?
Politicians and columnists persuade us that borrowing by the state is similar and as noble as a family borrowing to purchase a home. And, if the state were only 20- or 30-years-old, the simile would have more validity. After families pay off their initial mortgages, there is a diminishing need to continue borrowing and there should never be a necessity for families or for the state to borrow for everyday expenses.
Our state, nearly 200-years-old, must, by now, be approaching state adulthood. Couldn’t an entity that may endure for another 200 years plan its affairs, anticipating that occasionally it will have unforeseen expenses? Instead of accepting that 4 to 7 percent of every annual budget must be allocated to pay off debt, couldn’t a prudent entity reduce expenditures by the same amount, possibly increase revenue by a percent or more, and after debt is finally and permanently eliminated, continue to save the same amount for those unforeseen expenditures?
Couldn’t a prudent entity arrive at a place where instead of perpetual borrowing, it could earn interest on its savings—just as individuals do?