MODOT LEADERS TRY TO SAVE FACE
September 20, 2011
MoDOT's leaders want to save face. They don't want to go down in history as the only administration entrusted with Missouri's highways that could not afford the state match to receive federal funds.
Good enough. But I think it's a great injustice for them to come up with the money out of the hides of their workers. Especially since the funding crisis is of their own making.
The Highway Commission had a choice in 2004 to either sell more bonds and use their new Amendment 3 money to pay off the additional debt, or to simply pay off the bonds that were sold before 2004 and have the extra Amendment 3 money available after Jan 1, 2009 for pay-as-you-go. They chose to sell more bonds. A lot of new bonds. Now every bit of the Amendment 3 money, plus more, is needed to pay off the bonds at about $219 million per year. Due to this massive debt payment, their pay-as-you-go money now is less than before 2004. They soon won't be able to match federal funds. Will the world end if that happens? No, but you would think so given the extremes that MoDOT's leaders are resorting to.
Instead of doing the honorable thing by admitting that they got in too much debt and now without additional revenue some federal funds may be forfeited, they instead kept their error under wraps by implementing their Bolder Five Year Plan. Huge cuts to their workforce, equipment, buildings, and Missourian's services are their dishonorable answers to the problem, all to try to come up with the money to hide their blunder.
Sure, a small part of MoDOT's money problems are due to decreased tax revenue from gasoline sales and increased highway costs. But the lion's share is due to their debt. $2.2 billion in interest alone is now owed on the bonds over the next 20 years. MoDOT's leaders need to be held accountable to their taxpayers and not allowed to sweep this mismanagement under the rug. Heads should roll, and the cuts should be stopped.