A good investment

Friday, March 11, 2005

Bills in the Missouri House and Senate that would increase the state's investment in low-interest loans for small businesses and farmers sailed through both chambers without a single dissenting vote, an indication of the statewide support for the program.

The bills, whose differences must be resolved by a conference committee, would double the state's cap on linked-deposit investments to $720 million. Because the state treasurer cannot constitutionally lend money, linked deposits allow banks to make low-interest loans and receive state deposits for the same amount. The bank assumes all the risk of the loan.

A good deal of Missouri's funds are deposited outside the state in order to obtain the best rate of return. But advocates of the increase in linked-deposit loans say helping businesses in the state generates economic activity and results in more jobs and increased tax revenue. State Treasurer Sarah Steelman estimates this new emphasis on linked-deposit loans could generate $46 million in additional revenue for the state, once the program is fully implemented over the next few years.

Using state deposits to spur the economy and help create jobs is good business for Missouri. This program deserves quick action by the governor once the final bill reaches his desk.

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