Each year the Governor opens the session of the legislature with his State of the State address. This allows him to address the legislature with his proposals for the year's state budget. I am very anxious to examine his proposals and will be especially alert for any attempts to issue new bonded indebtedness.
One year ago the Governor asked the legislature to expand the size of government. In his presentation, he outlined several major costly proposals. The Governor proposed to indebt the taxpayers to more than $666,000,000 of new bonded indebtedness. Fortunately, most of this plan was not implemented.
Of special concern to me was the Governor's proposal to issue new debt to fund non-capital items. Traditionally, government bonds are issued for capital projects such as the construction of buildings. However, in his budget proposal last year, the Governor appeared to be seeking the authority to spend a sizable percentage of this debt on non state-owned capital items. This is money that I believed would have disappeared into the government bureaucracy, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for years to come.
It is also important to remember that the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits the government from going into debt. However, years of creative interpretation by the judiciary have made it possible for those who advocate for public debt to open up a Pandora's box of spending.
As your Representative, I have committed to reversing the disturbing trend of state government going deeper into debt. In fact, the state currently owes billions of dollars in long term debt and unfunded liabilities.
I feel strongly that state government should avoid long-term debt. It is irresponsible for politicians to saddle citizens with millions of dollars of indebtedness and then allow the bill to come due when they are no longer in office. This places debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren and makes reducing the size of government difficult because government will be forced to keep taxes high in order to pay debt and especially all of the interest that goes with the issuance of the debt.
As your representative, I have a policy of voting against the issuance of new debt. I have called for the passage of legislation which makes it more difficult for politicians to engage in this dangerous behavior with the taxpayers money.
If we are serious about rolling back big government and enacting important pro-growth reforms such as eliminating state income tax, the issue of big government debt is not one we can ignore. As it stands now, reducing the size of government is difficult enough because of past inappropriate spending by state politicians. It is our responsibility as legislators to draw a clear line in the sand and defeat new attempts to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren.