State picks winners, losers through bonding

We hope Minnesotans understand that when their governor, or state lawmakers, proposes major capital improvement projects across the state, the bills are paid by citizens, today and tomorrow. So state leaders need to be honest and wise in their choices.

Many lawmakers have taken to calling state bonding projects “investments.” They want to try to convince Minnesotans that the state is doing something businesslike and good. Of course, an investment is something entirely different. What the state does is hand out benefits to some and not to others. These decisions may or may not be good for you, the individual.

The least egregious choices help the state maintain roads and bridges, as well as build and maintain prisons.

After that, things get questionable, which is to say political. Decisions to fund construction projects related to higher education, social services, parks and trails, housing, flood mitigation and civic centers represent the notion that the state should fund these things. To which we say: Not necessarily.

Gov.?Mark Dayton is an unabashed spender. He has proposed $750 million worth of state bonding. His proposal is also untimely, coming in a year in which state lawmakers did not plan to consider a bonding bill. Dayton argues that now is the time, since interest rates are low. He has a point there, but lawmakers need to rein in his natural desire to spend freely. Borrowing still must be repaid. Less borrowing, especially for things that are largesse, means citizens are not burdened for decades to come.