The Jack Evans Report: The Unglamorous Bond
In this column, I typically try to focus on the types of issues that make the news and are important to a lot of residents in Ward 2 and across the city – taxes, education, ethics, public safety, and economic development. This week, I thought I would pull back the veil and show some of the inner workings of our government that are less glamorous but are nonetheless very important, and tell you why they may be more closely related to the newsworthy issues than you might think.
As chair of the Committee on Finance & Revenue, I have jurisdiction over legislative matters such as general obligation bond acts, revenue anticipation notes, industrial revenue bonds, and financing programs such as “TIFs,” or tax increment financing. I understand those topics may sound a little bit like what you would read when you have trouble sleeping rather than something to be passionate about, but they provide the critical nuts and bolts which enables the government to function smoothly. Next week, for example, my committee will hold a hearing on the “General Obligation Bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes for Fiscal Years 2013-2018 Authorization Act of 2012.” This is the legislation allowing our capital projects planned for 2013 to 2018 to go forward. Specifically, the bill would authorize the District to issue general obligation bonds or bond anticipation notes of up to $3.75 billion. The proceeds will fund items such as school facilities, recreation facilities and government offices included in our Capital Improvements Plan.
As I discussed during the confirmation process for our Chief Financial Officer, our bond rating really comes into play here in determining the amount of interest we have to pay in exchange for renovated libraries, schools and parks. Since financing and other costs have to be included in our budget and financial plan, and represent around $1 billion per year, small changes in our bond rating can cost (or save!) us millions of dollars per year. This has a dramatic impact on the funds we can spend on education, public safety, economic development, and health and human services.
Finally, I have to put in a quick plug for our Washington Nationals. I was so happy to see the Nationals clinch a spot in the playoffs last week! Having successful professional sports teams is such a morale boost to the city (not to mention a big driver of tax revenue!). The Mayor announced that the John A. Wilson Building, the District’s city hall, will be lighted red at night for the duration of our playoff run to honor the Nationals’ first postseason appearance.
As always, please reach out to my office if you have any legislative ideas or government service issues I can help with. And don’t forget to catch some Nats games!