Recent press stated, “Some Republican lawmakers have said they are reluctant to go into debt to pay for infrastructure.”
Traditionally, local, state and national governments have used borrowing to cover critical needs greater than their annual revenues can meet. Whether through issuing bonds or through government loans, governments have incurred debt over time to meet long-term infrastructure needs. We use longer-term debt to make needed purchases affordable. The key consideration is whether the repayment period is consistent with the expected life of the asset we are borrowing for and whether the financing cost is reasonable.
By those standards, the investment in infrastructure proposed by Gov. Steve Bullock is more than reasonable. The governor’s infrastructure budget provides an opportunity for Montanans to invest in themselves and their communities, schools, the university system, our historical society and other needed public facilities. These investments would enhance the quality of life in our communities and increase our economic competitiveness in a national and world economy. Rejecting affordable debt that would allow us to address critical long-term infrastructure needs would be truly “penny wise and pound foolish.” Those needs are not going away and will only be more costly tomorrow.