Reeves fails to help his state, needs a lesson in ‘basic finance’

May 22, 2012

COLUMNS

Nancy Anderson, columnist

Well, the legislators have packed up and gone home. As I survey the wasteland of passed and failed bills, I wonder if these folks have a clue about the dire straits many Mississippi families find themselves still in. While they were arguing about immigration and charter schools and abortion, while they were poring over redistricting maps and the power of the Attorney General, did they notice we’re still trying to dig out of the Great Recession?

Did ANYthing they did over the last several months create even ONE job? Did they lay the groundwork for future economic growth? Did they establish a framework to help the next generation of Mississippi children compete in the global economy? Nah.

The one bill that could have proved a win-win for the economy AND education was killed, stomped into a lifeless pile before it had a chance. Lt. Gov. Reeves turned his back on a bill that would increase our bonds to allow for construction and repair at Mississippi schools. Reeves said, “With rates as low as they are right now, should you go buy a $2 million house?”

Of course not, but we’re not trying to buy a $2 million house in Mississippi. We’re still trying to get out of the house trailer. Reeves should know that, sometimes, taking on debt makes perfect sense. Businesses borrow when they can produce a return on investment over and above the cost of that money. That’s basic finance.

Rates ARE at historic levels, and we need jobs. Those bonds would set bulldozers in motion and put construction workers back in the saddle. Every project would be its own stimulus, as local businesses blossom with the influx of workers. While revenue projections are creeping up, the use of bond money would really pump up the volume. The cost of the bonds would be more than offset by the economic benefits.

And, oh yeah, the schools are desperately in need of maintenance assistance — the win-win!

House Speaker Gunn said, “The failure to pass a bond bill is not the end of the world.” Apparently, Reeves and Gunn are both prone to hyperbole.

Of course it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of the line for Mississippi… again.

 >> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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