Cash or credit? Lawmakers face decisions on bond debt

“If we go another year without a significant bond issue, we’re in trouble,” Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said in August.

Reeves, a Republican, wants the Legislature to pay for some of those needs each year using cash instead of credit. He’s also aiming to trim the ability of the Mississippi Development Authority to borrow without legislative approval.

“What I hope is that we will be able to come to an agreement within the Legislature on a reasonable, rational bond package that focuses on long-term capital needs,” Reeves said.

But whether he can hold down total borrowing is unclear. From 1996 to 2011, lawmakers authorized some borrowing every year. The typical amount was $345 million, ranging from a low of $28 million in 2008 to a high of $857 million in 2010.

Last year, Reeves wanted to borrow $73 million and pay for $50 million in projects using cash.

House members wanted to sell as much as $280 million in bonds.

Clarion Ledger