• Municipal Debt Racket

      Now that more Americans are aware of the federal government’s irresponsible spending, today’s WSJ gives The Manhattan Institute's Steve Malanga space to remind us that many state politicians are just as bad.

      "State and local borrowing as a percentage of U.S. GDP has risen to an all-time high of 22% in 2010."

      In NJ, new governor Chris Christie has a lot to clean up:

      "New Jersey officials recently celebrated the selection of the new stadium in the Meadowlands sports complex as the site of the 2014 Super Bowl. Absent from the festivities was any sense of the burden the complex has become for taxpayers.

      Nearly 40 years ago the Garden State borrowed $302 million to begin constructing the Meadowlands. The goal was to pay off the bonds in 25 years. …

      Today, the authority that runs the Meadowlands is in hock for $830 million, which it can't pay back. The state, facing its own cavernous budget deficits, has had to assume interest payments—about $100 million this year on bonds that still stretch for decades."

      I assumed the 70's debt crisis would force politicians to act more responsibly.  I was wrong.

      "Over the next 20 years the municipal fiscal picture improved, with debt rising only slightly. But memories of past busts have since faded, and outstanding debt has soared to $2.2 trillion today from $1.4 trillion in 2000. State and local borrowing as a percentage of the country's GDP has risen to an all-time high of 22% in 2010 from 15%, with projections that it will reach 24% by 2012.  Even more disconcerting is what the borrowing now often finances…" concert venues to retail malls, museums and convention centers.

      America already has 40 percent more convention space than it needs, but narcissistic pols keep taking your money to build more.  Cleveland is wasting money on “Med Mart” which they claim will become a “Disneyworld for Doctors.”

        Taxpayers are hit with the bill. 

      "… the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, went bust, leaving the city's taxpayers on the hook for three-quarters of a million dollars in annual debt payments.Critics, including taxpayer groups, say most such agency projects add little economic value. Sometimes the outcome is much worse. In 1999, Fresno conceived plans to revive its downtown area with various projects, including a baseball stadium for the minor-league Grizzlies, which it had lured from Phoenix. The city's redevelopment agency floated some $46 million in bonds to build the stadium. But the Grizzlies fizzled in their new home, demanded a break on rent, threatening to skip town and stick taxpayers with the entire $3.4 million annual bond payment on the facility. The team is now receiving $700,000 in annual subsidies to stay in the city.

       In 2000, Massachusetts moved to make the entity that runs Boston area mass transit, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, financially independent. As part of the plan the authority was supposed to gradually pay down some $5.6 billion in debt and use cash from operations to finance capital projects.

       Instead, the agency deferred payments on its debt, put off capital projects, and borrowed more money, so that it now owes $8.5 billion. Today, the authority is paying a staggering $500 million yearly in debt service, forcing it to neglect maintenance, shelve expansion plans, and cut service."

       Disaster after disaster, yet they pols keep doing more of it.

       …some politicians have become addicted to debt.