A Waste of State Highway Funds
July 25, 2011
It is amazing how the state needlessly wastes money that could have been put to good use on it's roads and bridges. The Missouri Department of Transportation just got itself into unbelievable debt.
MoDOT is now paying off debt at $219 million a year, which could have been avoided. Contrary to what is usually stated, Amendment 3 (passed by Mo voters in 2004) did not require the highway commission to use the tax money to sell new bonds.
The Amendment can be found in the Mo Constitution. The part about bonds says "Moneys deposited in the state road bond fund...shall only be used to fund the repayment of bonds..., except that after January 1, 2009, that portion of the moneys in the state road bond fund which...is not needed to make payments upon said bonds or to maintain an adequate reserve for making future payments upon said bonds may be appropriated to the state road fund. The highways and transportation commission shall have authority to issue state road bonds for the uses set forth in this subdivision (3)."
The highway commission was given authority to sell bonds, but it wasn't required. They didn't need to incur new debt, but could have chosen to use the Amendment 3 money to simply pay off the bonds that were previously sold before 2004, and then save the remaining money and start spending it in 2009. They would then have had an extra revenue stream for on-going spending on new projects. Instead they decided to sell more bonds and use the proceeds on a 5 year construction boom spending about 1.2 billion per year. Now the bond money is running out, and the construction program will drop to about $600 million per year. They are now repaying the bonds at a cost of $219 million a year. By the time the bonds are paid off in 2033, MoDOT will have paid over $2.2 billion in interest alone. If not for this construction boom and debt, would they now be cutting 1200 of their 6300 employees, closing 131 buildings, and selling off 740 pieces of equipment to barely find enough money by 2015 to try to have their match for federal funds?
In response to:
Dear Editor: Some weeks ago the new bike bridge opened that is attached to the north Missouri River bridge. I heard that it cost around $6 million dollars. It amazes me that the state always seems to have money to spare when it comes to recreation and fun activities which in this case will benefit only a very small select part of the Missouri population.