Sen. Patrick Anderson today said the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority (OCIA) could jeopardize the state’s credit rating, costing taxpayers millions in higher borrowing costs, if they approve an agenda item at their Wednesday, March 12 meeting.
To address the fact that the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSHRE) do not have enough money to make their bond payments, the OCIA has scheduled a special meeting tomorrow at 3 p.m., in the Governor’s Large Conference room. At the Jan. 27 meeting of the OCIA, the Regents announced they would be approximately $10 million short on their bond payments this year.
If approved, an agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting would allow OCIA to refinance the Regents’ debt. However, state statutes only allow such refinancing under the current circumstances during periods of “financial distress”.
“If OCIA goes forward with this plan and declares that the State of Oklahoma is in ‘financial distress’, it will have a devastating impact on our state’s bond rating and could cost Oklahoma taxpayers millions,” said Anderson, R-Enid.
Anderson noted Oklahoma Statutes Title 73, Section 156.1(e.) outline the state’s refinancing limitations under the current economic circumstances.
“Our governor is promoting a tax cut, spending $40 million on the American Indian Cultural Center debacle, and indebting the taxpayers for another $160 million in Capitol repairs, all while chairing a meeting to declare that Oklahoma is in financial distress and can’t meet its current debt obligations,” Anderson said. “The governor’s message is a bit inconsistent. We need to get our priorities straight and pay our existing debts before we incur additional ones.”
The OCIA is chaired by Gov. Mary Fallin. Also serving as members of the authority are Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; State Treasurer Ken Miller; Preston Doerflinger, Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services; Mike Patterson, Director of the Department of Transportation; Dawn Cash, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Tax Commission; Deby Snodgrass, Secretary of Tourism and Recreation; and Ed Lake, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.