Revenue bond sale to start April 10

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A state board on Tuesday authorized an April 10 sale of a projected $387 million in revenue bonds to help cover the state's budget shortfall.

The bonds technically would help finance previously planned construction and repairs at state and university buildings. That would free up other money to go toward the state's budget shortfall.

After interest and other costs, the bonds are expected to generate about $335 million for state spending, of which $150 million would be used this fiscal year and $185 million in the 2004 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The state Board of Public Buildings voted 2-1 to schedule the bond sale, with Gov. Bob Holden and Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell supporting it and Attorney General Jay Nixon opposing it. The three Democratic officials are the only board members.

Holden previously had agreed with the Republican-led Legislature to use revenue bonds to help with the budget, although the governor had wanted to use more of the money this fiscal year and less next year.

Nixon consistently has opposed the use of bonds to cover short-term budget problems.

The bond issue would obligate the state to 25 years of bond payments, averaging around $28 million annually, said Mark A. Kaiser, assistant director of the state Division of Accounting.

Noting that, Nixon said: "I just don't think this is the right time to go into debt."

The alternative, Holden said, would be more budget cuts -- likely to education.

"This is the best option I can see," Holden said. "We're moving as expeditiously as we can and we hope that it's soon enough" to help with the budget.

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