1.15: Lawmakers seek to boost
(Week of April 16, 2002)
APRIL 12, 2002 - - A bill that would allow
the state to borrow more money to land large economic development
projects is on the fast track for approval.
On Wednesday, House members and senators introduced
slightly differing companion bipartisan bills that would allow the
state to borrow up to 5.5 percent or 6 percent of the previous year's
state income through bonds. Currently, the state can borrow up to
The borrowing, however, would be limited in scope,
supporters say. The funding could only be used for infrastructure
projects - - roads, bridges, sewerage and water projects - - to
prepare a site for industries that invest at least $400 million
in the state and provide at least 400 jobs. The money can't, they
say, be used for pet projects such as stadia, arenas or convention
Supporters say the measure would help the state
attract big projects, such as a much-talked-about $700 million DaimlerChrysler
plant in the Lowcountry and a huge expansion of the BMW plant in
"It would give us the capital to land these
big projects," one legislative leader said.
The bill, supported by Gov. Jim Hodges, needs 2/3
approval of both chambers and seems well on its way. In the Senate,
40 of 45 senators are co-sponsors. In the House 74 of 124 are co-sponsors.
The only opposition so far may be the Legislative
Black Caucus in the House. Leaders say it may be unwise to borrow
money for development while cutting health care for the poor.