July 22, 2014

House subcommittee approves $1.2 billion bond proposal

A House budget subcommittee has passed a proposal to have the state issue $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for projects at colleges and universities, state parks and buildings and other infrastructure needs.

Representatives Chris Kelly (foreground) and Lincoln Hough are the chairman and co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Infrastructure and Job Creation.

Representatives Chris Kelly (foreground) and Lincoln Hough are the chairman and co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Infrastructure and Job Creation.

The measure next goes to the full House Budget Committee. If it clears the legislature it would require voter approval.

The Committee has not yet debated a list of projects that could receive proceeds from the bond issuance. A resolution has been drawn up containing that list, but it will not be discussed until lawmakers return from next week’s Spring Break.

See the proposed resolution with the list of projects the bond proceeds could support.

Some committee members say Governor Jay Nixon wants the legislature to pass a proposal that would use revenue bonds. Committee chairman Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) opposes that avenue.

He believes under the state Constitution, such bonds are not meant to be issued for projects that do not generate revenue. Since the project list includes things that do not generate revenue, he doesn’t think revenue bonds would be acceptable.

Kelly acknowledges the state has used revenue bonds for non-revenue bearing projects before, and he knows there are lawyers that disagree with his assessment.

“I think these are the same lawyers who would say, ‘You may bond on the premise that you can mine green cheese on the Moon and sell it. So, I do not give much credibility to lawyers who say the State of Missouri can issue revenue bonds for non-revenue projects. Including the Governor.”

The proposal was amended to add a revolving fund of between $40 million and $60 million dollars for public schools to tap into for maintenance projects, and to require a cost-share from colleges and universities.

It also would create a “Taxpayer Protection Commission” of five members appointed by the Governor, the Senate President Pro-Tem and the Speaker of the House, to oversee management of the bond proceeds.