Can you imagine a situation in the private business world where one part of the business was allowed to issue millions of dollars of debt without approval from the board of directors? Certainly it would not be long before that business would simply cease to exist. No doubt it would be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-control employees who spend without check or balance.
Yet that is exactly what is occurring in state government. The Regents for Higher Education are issuing millions of dollars of bond projects without the approval of the legislature. The projects not only indebt state government to paying off the principal of the debt, but the unnecessary interest as well.
In fact, it appears that in the last 8 years, more than 250 million dollars have been issued by the Regents in debt. Currently, around 180 million of this is still waiting to be paid back. The money has been requested for use on projects as varied as athletic score boards to golf course maintenance equipment.
Recently, a courageous member of the Council of Bond Oversight asked his board to seek an Attorney General’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Regents to issue this kind of debt. Unfortunately, not enough members of his board voted to support his effort, and it failed.
I believe this is yet another step by a run-away big government bureaucracy to continue to indebt the people, while placing the tab for these expenditures on the backs of future generations. Those who spend our money will immediately benefit without having to give thought to the consequences of dealing with the interest that will accumulate over time on the debt they issued.
When dealing with their personal budgets, many people realize the important concept of going in debt only for emergency circumstances. This common sense principle should be applied to the government as well.
The government should certainly not be placing us in debt for score boards and golf course maintenance equipment. And most definitely, those who should be making the decision of whether or not to incur this indebtedness should be the elected representatives of the people; not unelected bureaucrats.
Perhaps this “spend-happy” attitude explains why Oklahoma’s college tuition has been increasing so rapidly over the past few years.
I will be the House of Representatives author of a Senate Bill by Senator Patrick Anderson to greatly limit the ability of the Regents to issue this type of debt. Anderson has worked hard to expose this inappropriate spending and I certainly appreciate being able to sponsor his bill in the House.
Should Anderson’s bill not meet with success this year, I am sure that either Anderson or myself will file the request with the Attorney General to provide an opinion on the constitutionality of the Regents’ ability to issue this debt without the approval of the legislature.