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Local editorial

Please vote

We recommend voting yes, but the important thing is to cast a ballot

It may have come as a surprise when the ballot arrived in your mailbox, but there is an election on Tuesday.

Only one item appears on the ballot. It should take only a few seconds to mark it, but if you haven't done so yet, don't drop it in the mail. Ballots must be received in the county elections department by 8 p.m. Tuesday or they won't get counted.

So far, local voters appear to be ignoring Ballot Measure 29 in droves. By Friday, only 25.4 percent of those eligible had returned ballots. We urge everyone to do so, and we recommend voting yes on Ballot Measure 29.

The measure isn't of earth-shaking importance ' alternatives do exist ' but it will save the state a substantial sum on a debt it must pay one way or the other.

In a nutshell, Measure 29 allows the state to sell general obligation bonds to pay off its debt to the state employees' retirement system. The state Constitution requires voter approval before general obligation bonds can be issued.

— General obligation bonds carry the lowest interest rate available to the state, so voting yes is to everyone's benefit.

The Libertarian Party wants you to vote no, although they agree that getting the best rate is a good idea. Party officials have criscrossed the state to tell anyone who will listen that the measure is loosely worded and would allow future Legislatures to borrow much more than is necessary to meet the existing obligation.

They also take State Treasurer Randall Edwards to task for writing in the Voters Pamphlet and elsewhere that the measure will save the state &

36;1 billion over the life of the bonds. That's true, but the Libertarians say Edwards is implying that voting no on 29 will cost the state &

36;1 billion.

In fact, if Measure 29 fails, Edwards will use other borrowing methods that don't require voter approval to pay off the debt. That will cost a little more ' &

36;44 million, to be exact, or about &

36;2 million a year.

We think that's 44 million reasons to approve the measure. As for the threat of irresponsible borrowing by future lawmakers, it's quite possible that PERS reforms adopted this year to reduce the overall debt will be overturned by the courts, in which case more borrowing at the lowest possible interest rate would be the responsible thing to do.

Wherever you come down on Ballot Measure 29, please vote.