The Mississippi Bond Commission has adopted new rules that will restrict the type of debt the commission issues.
This is all fine and good. Makes perfect sense. But, it begs a few questions:
If they believe this type of debt is so out of bounds, then why does the commission keep approving the projects?
Treasurer Lynn Fitch told the Associated Press, “This year’s bill included over four dozen other projects that were far more local in their benefit and questionably appropriate for funding with the taxpayer credit card.”
Four dozen projects. Got it. If my memory of grammar school math is correct then that should be 48 projects that are “questionably appropriate for funding”.
But that can’t be, can it? Because, at their October meeting, the Bond Commission members – Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, Republican Fitch and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood – ratified bonds for all but eight of the projects authorized by legislators.
So, let me get this straight. Of all the projects from the $308 million bond bill that legislators passed during the 2016 session, forty eight were questionably appropriate, but the Bond Commission approved all but eight?
Okay, I may be testing this grammar school math to it’s limits here. But, doesn’t that leave forty projects funded with the taxpayer credit card that are quesionable that the Bond Commission approved?
I know, I know. This government stuff is really complicated. I’m sure there is a perfectly good reason why the same three people who question the approval of 48 projects would approve 40 of them anyway.
According to the AP report the Bond Commission’s new rules prohibit Mississippi from issuing bonds to pay for salaries or other recurring expenses. They say any bond project must have a life at least as long as the life of the debt. They require that specific information be submitted about each project. They also say that the Bond Commission must have “clear and convincing evidence of economic use and benefit” for any project funded with tax-exempt bonds.
This sounds great. Thanks, guys. But, give us a damn break, would you?
You’re on the bond commission. You’re the last line of defense for taxpayers. If you are so concerned about these questionably appropriate projects, why are you approving 83-percent of them?
This ain’t rocket science!
The AP reports that among the local projects were $5 million for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center in Meridian; $1.6 million for seawall replacement at the Ross Barnett Reservoir; and $1.1 million for walking and bike trails, hunting and firing ranges at Columbus Air Force Base. The bill also authorized bonds for zoos in Jackson and Hattiesburg; museums in Pascagoula, Kosciusko and Leland; tourism projects in Vicksburg; a beautification project in New Albany; a welcome center in Okolona; street repairs in Laurel and Heidelberg; and baseball field lights for the Alcorn County School District.
Elected officials who issue new rules to protect the taxpayers, but who don’t have the guts to protect the taxpayers when they have the chance to do so, are playing the worst kind of B.S. politics.
Don’t feed the voters of Mississippi a crap sandwich and try to convince us it tastes good. The taxpayers deserve better, and are smarter than that.
Do your damn job!