Competing bond plans

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune

Within the past couple of weeks, state politicians have launched grand plans for funding popular programs with two separate bond issues no doubt reflecting partisan electoral competition.

Democrat Gov. Bob Holden came out first with a rather vague plan for funding life sciences research and transportation infrastructure. He would repay the bonds in part by scaling back on tax credit programs, which have become quite numerous in Missouri.

Only a few days later, House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, both Republicans, staged press conferences across the state to urge a $190 million bond issue for university development, mainly -- you guessed it -- for life sciences on all four University of Missouri campuses. ...

Both issues can be argued as economic development initiatives. The only real way government can whoop up the economy is by injecting borrowed money, such as that provided by bond issues. The new money arrives from lenders and is spent in the near term for capital improvements, giving an economic boost. Of course, the days of reckoning come, plus interest. ...

Both bond retirements will come mainly from future state budgets, causing thoughtful legislators at least a moment of concern. ...

Both plans promise spending on appealing projects, but details are scanty. Let's learn everything and consider them on their separate merits. ... We might want to take a flier, but not without our eyes open.

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