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Lobbyist Money Help  

Talent sends highway bond plan to independent consultant

August 29, 2000
By: Kate Miller
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Talent has submitted his highway bonding proposal to an independent consultant to rerun the numbers after weeks of Democratic charges the plan was financially unsound.

Talent campaign spokesperson Michelle Dimarob said the attacks were not the reason for hiring the independent consultant. She said the move was necessary to make sure the numbers, compiled in August 1999, were up to date.

"We just want to make sure we have the most current information," she said.

The Democratic candidate, Bob Holden, has labeled the plan, which calls for $1 billion bonds to be issued annually for 10 years, fiscally irresponsible. Holden accuses Talent of underestimating the cost of inflation and future interest rates and said the proposal would hurt the state's AAA bond rating.

The current Talent figures estimate that the state will pay an average of $630 million a year, $530 million of which will come from the Transportation Department's budget and the rest from the state's general budget.

Holden, who has issued no highway improvement plan of his own, has criticized the Talent plan for underestimating the cost of inflation and future interest rates. He also accused the proposal of putting the state's AAA bond rating at risk by taking on too much debt.

Holden has expressed support for the $2 billion bond plan passed by the legislature signed into law earlier this year.

Brad Scott, Talent's campaign manager, said last week that Talent's plan was just one proposal aimed at giving voters an idea of how highway improvements could be paid for. Ultimately, he said, the state legislature would have to approve any bonding plan.