Strange bedfellows | Arkansas Blog

Strange bedfellows

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We meant to mention this morning, after reading that Randy Minton and others in the super-conservative Republican Assembly had suggested that it might be a better idea to use the state's surplus for some $250 million in college building projects than to borrow the money, thus increasing the cost several fold, counting interesting, and extending taxpayer obligations by a couple of decades.

Ernie Dumas, generally castigated by Republicans as one of the doughty band of pointy-headed liberals in the state, made just such a suggestion in an editorial for The Leader a while back. He agrees that the colleges have needs, but:

A bond issue nevertheless is not the prudent and efficient way to meet those needs.

Two months after the election, the legislature will assemble and decide what to do with a surplus of more than $700 million.
It will have to earmark a couple hundred million of it to public school construction, perhaps $25 million for prisons and legislators will want to divide some of it among themselves for local pork to help them get re-elected or elevated to higher office. The lawmakers will, wisely we think, set aside some for a rainy-day fund.

Still, the surplus will be large enough to fund every building project on the university and college campuses that has any practical need.

They could be funded and built immediately. No bond lawyers, no brokerages, no investors would have to have their palms crossed. It would require no tax increase.

Why would the state choose instead to pay for those buildings twice? That is what happens when you borrow all the money for the construction and pay for the buildings with compound interest from tax revenues over the next 20 years or 25 years. Maybe they will have an answer for us by November.

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