A businessman addressing the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho had a surprising recommendation today: Lower the two-thirds supermajority requirement for general-obligation bonds, which school districts and local governments now must get to invest in major infrastructure like new buildings. “Please don’t throw anything at me, don’t boo me out of the room,” said Cortney Liddiard, CEO of Ball Ventures, an Idaho Falls real estate investment, lending and development company. “But perhaps it’s time to seriously consider decreasing the 2/3 requirement, which would provide for financial flexibility and lower the barriers to respond to infrastructure funding needs.”
He said, “Idaho’s strong economy has already led to a shortage of skilled workers. … We need solutions to accelerate the training of the workforce of Idaho. … Idaho could benefit by loosening funding restrictions in targeted ways.” Liddiard noted that Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Oregon require only a majority vote to issue general obligation bonds.
Liddiard also called for increased use of revenue bonds, tax increment financing and urban renewal. “Idaho invests in infrastructure approximately one-quarter as much as Utah per capita,” he said. “Idaho should expand its municipal tax options by considering non-property tax options.”
Investing in infrastructure, including transportation infrastructure, would spur economic growth and make Idaho more competitive in the future, Liddiard said. With the state’s strong financial position, he said, “Idaho can afford to invest in transportation infrastructure and build new schools.”