SQ 764: Creates the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund; allows the OWRB to issue bonds

October 19, 2012 Posted by zachary

State Question 764 is one of those issues that seems like a good idea, especially when certain external factors are in play, such as a state wide drought. However, when you really look at the question, what you see is a question asking for citizens to grant the government permission to  increase debt.

Here is the text of the measure.

This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It adds a new Section 39A to Article 10. It would allow the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds. Any bonds issued would be used to provide a reserve fund for the Board. The fund would be a reserve fund for certain water resource and sewage treatment funding programs. The fund could only be used to pay other bonds and obligations for the funding programs. The bonds could only be issued after other monies and sources are used for repayment. The bonds would be general obligation bonds. Not more than Three Hundred Million Dollars worth of bonds could be issued. The Legislature would provide the monies to pay for the bonds. The Legislature would provide for methods for issuing the bonds. The Legislature would provide for how the fund is administered.

While the measure does have one good part to it, the Legislative checks, it still leaves the main issue intact, debt. When looking at the federal government and the $14 trillion debt it currently has and comparing that to the relatively balanced and debt free budget the state has, do we really want to the State to allow individual agencies to raise up to $300 million in debt? Even with the cause of improving the state’s water and sewage system, that argument falls flat.

Additionally, there is no indication that the Water Resources Board needs this bond power. Even supporters of the measure agree with that point. They claim that this would allow for the Board to better respond to desperate needs of municipalities. However, that same need could be addressed by setting aside portions of the current allocated budget for such needs.

So instead of authorizing new debt to meet the needs of the state, we need more sound fiscal policies.

Vote “No” ON SQ 764

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