Legislature “maxed out” state credit limit, but on what?
By Senate Republican Office,
Salem, OR – The majority party took the state credit card on a spin last session, racking up so much debt that State Treasurer Ted Wheeler (D) issued a strong warning against further borrowing on Friday. But what did the state get for all that spending? “We said it two years ago and we will say it again, borrowing to continue the legislature’s addiction to spending is fiscal mismanagement,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “Unfortunately, that is exactly what the majority party has done, and we have little to show for their efforts.”
At the outset of the 2009 session, it took Democrats less than a month to charge $175 million in pork barrel spending to the taxpayer’s credit line. Called the “Go Oregon!” stimulus project, it turned out to be a pathetic failure. The project borrowed money to pay for maintenance projects around the state, a maneuver most businesses would avoid as fiscally irresponsible. Many of the projects were as silly as replacing door hardware, pulling up juniper bushes, treating roofs for moss and installing light bulbs. The Go Oregon! plan routinely failed to meet minimum requirements and benchmarks set for it. Moreover, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) wants Oregonians to regard it as a mere coincidence that $12 million went to his employer at Western Oregon University.
Most importantly, the $175 million in spending failed to make a dent in Oregon’s double digit unemployment rate. Today Oregon hovers at the same number of unemployed individuals as it did two years ago.
“Not only has the majority party spent beyond Oregon’s self-imposed limits, but they have spent it foolishly,” said Ferrioli. “Democrat leaders in the Legislature “maxed out” our credit line, but Oregonians aren’t any better off today than they were two years ago.”
Wheeler said on Friday that the state must stop borrowing until the economy recovers. His warning was endorsed by the state’s Debt Policy Advisory Commission. The Legislature has authorized more than $1 billion in new borrowing this budget cycle, putting the state well over the recommended debt-to-income ratio.
If Democrats retain control of the legislature, their only option is to ignore the warnings of the Debt Policy Advisory Commission and continue spending at unsustainable levels.