In the midst of a lingering recession, a citizens group in your state has placed an amendment on an upcoming election ballot. The measure would prohibit new debt issuances by state or local governments, which would presumably reduce taxes as a result of less tax-supported debt. Supporters of the amendment claim the proposed measure will force government to operate more efficiently and cut bloated spending, while opponents fear that public services and the quality of life in the state will be severely affected if the amendment passes.
a. Why do governments typically issue general long-term debt? What types of services might be limited if debt was no longer a financing option?
b. Consider each of the following statements regarding the amendment. Select at least two of the statements (numbered 1–5) to indicate your position on the proposed amendment. Incorporating the statements selected, draft a memo supporting your position on the proposed amendment.
(1) It is our general belief that the state has enough money to spend. Government officials can spend more wisely or even cut their spending.
(2) We understand voters’ frustration with government spending; however, borrowing restrictions will require that the state and local governments raise fees, reduce construction, or reduce programs and services.
(3) Highly paid government lawyers have tried to find loopholes in taxpayer approval of government debt. They have created loopholes, so taxpayers are spending millions on long-term debt interest that they never got the opportunity to approve.
(4) This measure is a direct reaction to poor treatment of taxpayers by government; however, this reaction is so far overreaching that it will ultimately kill state jobs and strip local governments’ ability to provide police and fire protection and to educate our children.
(5) An estimated 36 school districts, representing almost half of the students in the state, will exceed or equal the new debt limits and be unable to borrow money to build public school facilities.