This Washington

Extra Fizz: Republican Budget Leader Focuses on Bond Debt

By Josh Feit December 15, 2010

Yesterday, 24-hours in advance of Gov. Gregoire's big budget rollout [coming in a few minutes], state Sen. Joseph Zarelli (R-18, Clark and Cowlitz County), the top Republican on the ways and means committee, tried to frame the debate. "It's not just about the [$4.6] billion problem in the next biennium," he said, but "buried" in the problem is the state's debt service on infrastructure bonds.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kxqXtc7yHM&feature=player_embedded#![/youtube]

Currently, Zarelli points out, the state must dedicate $1.8 billion to debt service per biennium and, he worries, because of "debt creep," paying off bonds will become the state's number one priority as opposed to funding things like education.

His solution, limit the amount of debt the state can take on to 7 percent of the budget at any given time as opposed to the current 9 percent.

"The problem," he says, "[is] the debt service for the things we built in the past is greater than the amount of money we actually spend to build things."
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