The battle of wills in Washington over stimulus funding has infected some state legislatures, as leaders from both sides of the political fence struggle over different ideologies.
The arguments are fundamentally the same. One side wants to inject large amounts of state money into construction, while the other screams fiscal irresponsibility.
This week, Moody’s Investors Service seemed to agree with the latter when it changed its outlook on Minnesota’s credit rating to negative after the state Senate chose to advance a $1 billion bonding bill.
The Minnesota bill to fund university and public works projects easily passed the state Senate Feb. 9, but could face a veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty by the end of the month.
Pawlenty and other Republicans assert that the legislature is trying to spend money it doesn’t have. Put another way, when you’re in a hole, you don’t grab a shovel.
And in Alabama last week, a bill that would have funneled as much as $100 million a year for 10 years to road, bridge and railroad projects was removed from the state Senate’s agenda after four days of intense, protracted debate.
Sen. Lowell Barron (D-Fyffe) sponsored the legislation in an effort to create a state-funded stimulus bill that would whittle away at Alabama’s backlog of road and bridge projects. The money would have come from the Alabama Trust Fund, comprised of about $2.6 billion in royalties from natural gas drilling off the state’s coast.
Republican opponents argued that the trust fund money should remain intact, and alternate proposals to impose a minimum balance in the trust fund and to require a new vote each year did little to help the bill’s passage.
Not surprisingly, in both Minnesota and Alabama contractors have passionately supported their respective state’s funding proposals.
What do you think? Should the construction industry support bills that might potentially jeopardize a state’s financial stability and/or credit rating? Or do you feel these bills are necessary for economic recovery?