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Pennsylvania Water And Sewer Improvements Bond Referendum (2008)

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A Pennsylvania Water And Sewer Improvements Bond Referendum appeared on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Pennsylvania. The measure passed. It sought approval for $400 million in state spending on various sewer and other improvement grants.

Election results

Pennsylvania Question 1 (2008)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,879,592 62.3%
No1,744,55537.7%

Election results via:Pennsylvania Election Division 2008 Election Results

Text of Question

Do you favor the incurring of indebtedness by the Commonwealth of $400,000,000 for grants and loans to municipalities and public utilities for the cost of all labor, materials, necessary operational machinery and equipment, lands, property, rights and easements, plans and specifications, surveys, estimates of costs and revenues, prefeasibility studies, engineering and legal services and all other expenses necessary or incident to the acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion, extension, repair or rehabilitation of all or part of drinking water system, storm water, nonpoint source projects, nutrient credits and wastewater treatment system projects?[1]

Summary

The measure enacted the following provisions:

  • Allow the government of Pennsylvania to borrow $400,000,000 ($400 million) to make grants and loans to municipalities and public utilities for the acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion, extension, repair or rehabilitation of drinking water system, storm water and nonpoint source projects, nutrient credits and wastewater treatment system projects.
  • The measure explicitly defines the terms in includes (for example, it defines "drinking water system" as something that "consists of reservoirs, wells, water treatment facilities and equipment such as pipes, tanks, filters and pumps, which collect, treat, store and supply safe drinking water for public use").
  • Only $200,000,000 ($200 million) may be used in outright grant to municipalities. The remainder would have to be disbursed as loans to those who qualify for the funds.
  • The amount of a grant, loan, or combination of grant and loan awarded for a project may not exceed the monetary limits set by Act 64 of 2008, which vary based on the annual average daily flow of a sewage treatment system or the population served by a water system.[2]
  • The total cost of repayment will be an estimated $621 million, with an annual cost of $31 million after all the debt is issued ($11.2 million and $23.1 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively).[3]

Pros and Cons

Supporters of the referendum argued:

  • $400 million is only a small portion of the almost $20 billion needed to ensure clean water and consumer safety.[4]
  • This year the federal budget cut $42 million in state water and sewer funding as municipalities are facing expensive improvements due to new EPA regulations.[5]
  • Those in favor of the bond believe making more funds available to municipalities will create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Critics of the referendum argued:

  • The question facing voters is less about whether Pennsylvania needs additional funding for water and sewer infrastructure, but whether the state needs additional revenue to pay for it.
  • Pennsylvanians already owe $110 billion in state debt, not including the additional $3 billion passed in the 2008-09 state budget.
  • Opponents are skeptical of taking on new debt in the current economic climate given the legislature's history of spending.[6]

See also

External links

References