Monday, March 16, 2009

Paving Roads without Issuing Debt

Last week was the deadline week for bills originating in the House of Representatives to be heard on the House floor. House bills not considered by the House by the end of last week are probably not going to pass into law this year. Because of this deadline, Representatives worked late several times, sometimes staying as late as 11:00 p.m.

I was fortunate to have seven of my bills survive the deadline this year. One of these bills was House Bill 1294, a constituent request bill from Logan County.

Anyone in Logan County can tell you about the unimproved condition of many county roads. And, as you are aware if you have read my columns, I feel that government entities at all levels are incurring too much debt.

House bill 1294 would allow Logan County road districts to fund their capital projects without using bonded indebtedness. This is a fantastic concept. I believe that government entities at all levels incur debt too often and pay millions of dollars in unnecessary debt interest. The savings from implementing House Bill 1294 would stay in the people's pockets -- where it belongs.

Another neat aspect about this bill is that it also exposes the fact that state statutes tend to encourage public boards to issue bonded indebtedness. If the no-debt concept can be proven to work in a road district, it might be able to be expanded to cities, counties, public trusts and school boards that wish to fund capital improvements without forcing people to stay in debt for many years.

After serving in government and seeing how easy it is for politicians to rush into incurring indebtedness with our money, it has been very refreshing to work with individuals who share the conviction that incurring debt is unwise and should be avoided whenever possible.

House Bill 1294 was approved by a vote of 96-0 in the House and now goes to the Senate.

Another very important issue to area drivers is the condition of the Waterloo Road I-35 ramp. This crowded exit ramp has become a serious headache for Logan and Oklahoma county drivers on their way to and from work. The good news is that ODOT has been very receptive to requests for a solution and has awarded a $229,000 contract to Shell Construction to expand the northbound off ramp and the southbound on ramp. The contractor must start construction before June 1st and will have 60 days to complete the project.

As construction begins, please continue to provide me with your feedback on this and other road-related concerns in House District 31. It is your input that allows me to know where the most pressing needs are located.

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