Getting A Handle On State Debt
Published: September 22nd, 2006
By: Sen. James Seward

Getting a handle on state debt

“He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing” is the old maxim. The book of Proverbs and Old Richard’s Almanack are full of cautionary statements about debt and borrowing at a personal or family level.

But what about for a government -- state or local? Is debt good or bad? Many municipalities use debt as an instrument to stretch out payments for a town hall or expensive highway equipment (and snowplows don’t come cheap). The state is no different. New York borrows for various purposes, and voters have approved various bond issues, but debt can get out of hand and there has been criticism that New York’s borrowing practices are shrouded in secrecy.

People borrow for a house or car, but you wouldn’t think of taking out a bank loan for your groceries. Governments are the same. Certain purposes make sense, but we don’t want to put the state’s groceries on a credit card.

That’s one reason why the state senate passed some genuine debt reform legislation this year, starting with senate bill 8333. The senate approved legislation, including a constitutional amendment, to limit the amount and type of debt the state can issue and to deal with debt more aggressively in order to reduce New York State’s debt load, improve state finances and reduce the state’s financial burden being shouldered by hardworking New Yorkers. Debt reduction cuts the state’s financial blood pressure.


The Evening Sun

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