Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 16, 2015
Protecting the Democratic Process of Issuing Public Bonds

This week, I filed legislation that would place in law an important check on the executive branch’s questionable ability to issue bonds. Up until recently, such a measure was never necessary. For decades, the issuance of public bonds was done with legislative oversight and ample opportunity for voters to voice their opinion. While Governors could support or push for bonding proposals, they couldn’t circumvent public approval—not the ballot or the General Assembly—and personally decide to create a massive amount of taxpayer debt to fund a project.

Shown above, Sen. Silvey meets with Mr. and Mrs. Hart, retired educators who travelled to Jefferson City this week to discuss their issues.

Yet, that’s exactly what we’ve seen over the last month from the current administration. It began earlier this year when the St. Louis Rams organization announced its intention of leaving the city after the 2015-2016 season unless a new stadium was built. The Governor hastily put together a $1 billion proposal to construct a state-of-the art sports complex. Taxpayers were estimated to be responsible for about $400 million.

Lawmakers were justifiably cautious, and anticipated heavy debate on the proposal. Instead, the executive branch stepped in and announced to the Legislature that it had the authority to issue bonds on its own, based on an extremely loose interpretation of a decades’ old statute. Many called legal foul on the maneuver.

I’ve asked the state’s Attorney General to examine the law and determine if the Governor truly has the legal authority to issue public bonds without any legislative or voter approval. In the meantime, it is imperative we stop this proposal in its tracks. If not, we could see future administrations attempt to hijack funding authority from the people and their elected officials, creating a very slippery slope.  

If this plan moves forward, we’d be allowing one individual to unilaterally put Missouri millions of dollars into debt. One person. That goes against all the budgetary checks and balances that have protected the fiscal stability of our state for years, and is an affront to the democratic principles elected officials are sworn to protect.

As always, I am here to serve the 17th District. I welcome any discussion, questions or concerns regarding Missouri government. Please feel free to contact me at the State Capitol: (573) 751-5282, ryan.silvey@senate.mo.gov, or by writing to Sen. Ryan Silvey, Missouri State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 331A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.