The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 11, 2014

Sen. Anderson questions Okla. Capitol Improvement Authority refinancing debt

Enid Sen. Patrick Anderson said Tuesday Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority could jeopardize the state’s credit rating if the panel — which is chaired by Gov. Mary Fallin — approves an agenda item at its meeting today.

At the Jan. 27 OCIA meeting, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced it would be approximately $10 million short on its bond payments this year. To address that situation, OCIA has scheduled a special meeting at 3 p.m. today in the Governor’s Large Conference room.

If approved, an agenda item for the meeting would allow OCIA to refinance OSRHE’s debt.

However, Anderson said, 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,” Anderson said.

Fallin had no comment Tuesday, said Alex Weintz, her communications director.

Anderson said 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.”

Also serving on OCIA are Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; state Treasurer Ken Miller; Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services; Mike Patterson, director of Oklahoma Department of Transportation; Dawn Cash, commissioner of Oklahoma Tax Commission; Deby Snodgrass, secretary of Tourism and Recreation; and Ed Lake, director of Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

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