Legislators scratching heads over genesis of ‘Debt Affordability Study’
RALEIGH — Recently, State Treasurer Janet Cowell reported that as the result of a Debt Affordability Study, the State could potentially borrow up to $4.5 Billion over five years.
Shortly after Cowell’s announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory — during his State of the State address suggested that he wanted to borrow $2.5 billion to raise teacher pay to a minimum starting pay of $35,000, with other monies going to fund transportation and government infrastructure costs.
Before the Governor’s remarks, Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) and Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) revealed that, initially, they were not familiar with the report cited by Cowell, nor had they heard her remarks.
However, once apprised, both conservative state legislators said that just because state government could borrow and spend more money did not mean that the General Assembly should or would appropriate these funds.
No one seems to know just who is responsible for this Debt Affordability Study, and why it was initiated. Was it Janet Cowell, or was it the Governor? Either way, the timing of these events appears to be far more than mere coincidence.
Was Janet Cowell following the instructions of the Governor? No one knows for certain. But what we do know is that our state is making great strides in getting out of the financial hole that was dug for us by the previous administration.
Ms. Cowell has gotten the finances of our State Retirement System under control, which were billions in the red when the Republican Legislature took over. So this is no time to increase our debt! Reducing costs have provided some benefits, but there is more waste to be trimmed.
So we should avoid the temptation to borrow money. This paper will continue to follow the story.