JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate Conservative Caucus blocked action into this morning on fellow Republican Governor Mike Parson’s $350 million proposed bridge repair plan. The governor’s blueprint would fix 250 bridges over three years. The bill, sponsored by Senate President Dave Schwartz, R-Sullivan, was tweaked to gain more support. The latest version would borrow seven-year bonds at roughly $25 million in interest, instead of 15-year bonds at $100 million in interest.
During the filibuster lasting at least seven hours, Lake St. Louis Republican Bob Onder described the plan as putting the infrastructure costs on a credit card.
“The idea that ‘Well gosh, as long as we could borrow 2% money, why don’t we borrow all we can. Well then why don’t we borrow our whole budget this year at 2%,” Onder asked Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.
“Well, because there’s obviously a point in which borrowing becomes unhealthy as it relates to your ability to pay it back,” replied Rowden, who backs the governor’s proposal.
“The idea that we have to deficit spend and borrow in good economic times, what happens in bad,” Onder questioned.
Onder supports the House’s version to put $100 million in the state budget for road and bridge improvements. He said the state owes $1.8 billion in current infrastructure debt and asked Rowden if owing another $350 million for Parson’s plan is offensive.
“The idea that we would capitalize on the fact that our debt is historically low in our state to fix a transportation infrastructure problem is not offensive to me in the least,” said Rowden.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said Republicans “need to get it together”.
“Right now, you all hold a supermajority. You have the House, the Senate, the Governor’s Mansion and you have veto power. You can’t seem to get nothing done when it comes to infrastructure. That is a problem for me,” she said. “If I was in control, I would have a problem with all this infighting. However, we don’t have time to implode. We have a problem with infrastructure.”
She said GOP priorities don’t make sense.
“How can we continue to cut taxes and then have to go borrow money? That’s like an oxymoron. You go cut taxes – Republicans cutting the taxes – and then you have to turn around and borrow? I’m done talking,” said Nasheed.
The Senate did not vote on the measure.