A lot of attention has been given to the gargantuan debt that has been racked up the federal government. And though it pales in comparison, the amount of debt racked up by the state government warrants attention, too.
Our state’s bonded indebtedness was $3.7 billion at the beginning of this year. That’s a 54% increase over ten years earlier. And that number will increase this year as the state issues the rest of the almost one billion dollars in debt that was authorized by the legislature and signed by the governor last year. To pay the principal and interest owed this year will cost the state more than $400 million. The amounts authorized last year will add more than 50 million more dollars to the state budget each year, putting additional pressure on other parts of the budget, like education and public safety. Now, the legislature wants to add another $300-or-400 million for construction projects that just aren’t necessary, especially in the current economy.
Most families, including mine, have learned that the first step in addressing debt in a difficult economy is to stop adding to it. Our state leaders need to heed that lesson as well.